Smyrna Airport conducts aircraft crash drill

The Smyrna Airport conducted a simulated mass casualty drill May 10, inviting all their emergency response, fire and rescue associates out to make the emergency drill as realistic as possible and to share in the benefits of the training opportunity.

The fictitious scene had a two-engine cargo airplane with two crewmembers “fall out of the sky” and crash into a two-engine passenger plane with two crewmembers and 20 passengers. Smoke grenade canisters added to the drill’s realism. Firetrucks from the Smyrna Airport Fire Station responded to the simulated crash scene to put out the “fire” and begin treating “victims.” They were soon reinforced by firefighters from the Town of Smyrna.

The “injured passengers” were Explorer Scouts and their advisors from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 106. Explorer Scouts are young men and women from 14 to 21 years old and are an element of the Boy Scouts of America.

Other agencies involved in the May 10 drill included the Smyrna Airport staff and the Rutherford County Emergency Management Agency.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires airports like Smyrna, which supports unscheduled air carrier service, to conduct a full-scale emergency drill every three years. For Smyrna, according to airport director John Black, “The drill involves aircraft, area rescue and firefighting agencies, media role-players and volunteers serving as mock victims. It’s training for all of us for incidents that could happen here. The more we train, the more prepared we are.”

The Explorer Scouts received real-world experience, too, Black noted.

“The volunteers really make it realistic for us,” he observed. “They each have a paper tag that says what their ‘injury’ is. They might be ‘walking wounded,’ or ‘seriously burned,’ or they might be a ‘casualty.’”

Fire and rescue personnel go through the process of triage, sorting out the most serious injuries and treating them first.

Black explained, “The first responders work through each and every victim, based on what their ‘injury’ is and simulate sending them to the hospital or maybe sit them off to the side because they are not as critical as the next person.”

And while the emergency response drill may be FAA-mandated, Black says, “This is important because in the natural operation of an airport, there are going to be incidents from time to time. And, to be prepared for those incidents and know what to do is absolutely critical because seconds mean lives, and we want to be there in time to save a life.”

- Murfreesboro Post