Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport conducts triennial emergency response drill

Published: Sep. 16, 2023 at 6:09 PM EDT
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ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - Lots of first responders were at Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport Saturday for it’s triennial emergency response training drill.

It looks like a scene from an action movie, but in reality, It gives them the hands-on experience they need to save lives.

“It’s very important that we continue to train on the emergencies that could happen at an airport,” Jason Burch said.

Jason Burch is the CEO of Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport. He says the drill simulates a scene just moments after a deadly plane crash, and as soon as the fire begins first responders have three minutes to get to the scene.

“It is a full-scale training and exercise,” Burch said. “Basically, it’s our opportunity to demonstrate that we are prepared as a community and as an airport emergency response team to handle the emergencies that would come with a commercial airport.”

They then must locate and attend to any casualties played by volunteer actors.

“When we do training, we don’t have the victims as much we have some mannequins, but to actually have people out here that are actually role playing, that adds realism to it that we just don’t normally get in training,” Jonathen Shenk said.

Jonathan Shenk is the chief of public safety for Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport. He says having a realistic training exercise like this one not only shows their strengths, but their weaknesses so they know where they need to improve.

“We’re looking at making sure that our procedures and our protocols, that they work in the environment that we’re in, to see if there’s any adjustments that we need to make, also, to make sure that we’re our communications between us and our mutual aid companies worked well,” Shenk said.

And it’s drills like these that really make all the difference in life-or-death situation.

“I love being just seeing these guys in their uniforms out here and the trucks and then responding safely and effectively and doing all the right things,” Burch said. “I walk away a very proud CEO. And I look forward to you know, continuing to train with these guys.”

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