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Mock Exercise Tests Airport, First Responder Readiness
More than 100 community volunteers recruited to add reality to disaster drill
MELBOURNE, Fla. (May 07, 2013) — From fuel spills to security breaches, airport staff and first responders must be prepared to protect the passengers and the public. Responding to such emergencies in a coordinated and efficient way is crucial.
Interagency coordination and cooperation will be put to a test Wednesday morning during the FAA’s triennial mass-casualty exercise, which tests coordinated responses by airport, first responder and medical services to large-scale emergencies. The half-day drill involves a scenario of a fuel spill and fire at the airport as more than 100 passengers are boarding an aircraft.
As in previous years, the exercise includes multiple players including the airport, airlines, local law enforcement, federal security officials, fire rescue and hospitals. Additionally supporting agencies such as the American Red Cross and Space Coast Area Transit will play important roles in the drill.
“These mock disaster drills play a crucial role in ensuring we are prepared for any situation,” said Cliff Graham, airport operations manager. “Each agency involved gets to interact in a real-time scenario that challenges our communications, coordination and cooperation.”
To add to the reality of the drill, more than 100 volunteers from the community will play the roles of victims and family members. They are being encouraged to act out their parts realistically, and some appear to be taking that encouragement to heart.
“One woman emailed us a photo of the injury she created,” Graham said. “It looked pretty realistic.”
This year’s drill will play out al fresco as triage, evacuation and command-center functions will take place under a large tent in a field southeast of the airport terminal along NASA Boulevard. Melbourne Police may block off part of NASA Boulevard and post officers at key intersections around the airport as part of the drill.
“These annual drills are valuable in developing solid working relationships among a variety of public safety agencies,” said Richard A. Ennis, airport executive director. “Each year, it seems, the planners find increasingly creative and challenging exercises that help us hone our skills.”
About Melbourne International Airport
Melbourne International Airport serves east Central Florida, including Brevard and Indian River counties, and is responsible for generating more than $1 billion per year in economic activity. It is among the nation’s fastest-growing aviation manufacturing and maintenance hubs, and is the closest international airport to Port Canaveral, one of the world’s busiest cruise ports. Led by Executive Director Richard A. Ennis and Melbourne Airport Authority Board Chairman Harry Goode, the airport operates three runways, a 200,000-square-foot terminal and offers multiple FBOs. Melbourne International Airport is home to more than 75 tenant businesses including Northrop Grumman, General Electric, Rockwell Collins, LiveTV, Embraer and Harris Corp. The airport currently serves Delta Air Lines and its affiliates, US Airways and Baer Air.