SANTA MARIA, Calif. -- Volunteers and emergency responders have planned a disaster exercise at the Santa Maria Public Airport on Wednesday. Participants will simulate a plane crash on the runway.
The scenario will simulate a mass casualty incident at the airport involving 40 to 50 passengers on a plane after the crash where the plane is leaking fuel. The exercise will happen on a closed taxiway behind a commercial hanger and will go from 7:30 a.m. till noon.
The airport will remain open while the drill is in progress. All terminal, restaurant and other aviation areas have already been told about the drill.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires emergency crews to practice these types of disaster drills every three years to test their emergency plans and operations and make sure they work efficiently. The Santa Maria Fire Department Station 6 has specialized equipment for emergencies like the one used for the simulation. Specialized equipment at Fire Station 6 includes a Crash Unit capable to pump either foam or water onto an aircraft to fight the flammable liquid fires that could happen.
For the simulation, a school bus will represent the aircraft and a smoke machine and propane fire pan will be used represent the fire. Volunteer students will act as victims for the drill, according to firefighters. Students will be made up with make up to simulate wounds for emergency responders.
Emergency crews plan to hold another emergency drill day in October. For the second drill, The Santa Maria Fire Department plans to use its brand new Aircraft Rescue fire engine apparatus.
Organizations participating in the exercise include the Santa Maria Public Airport District, Santa Maria Fire and Police Departments, city dispatch center, American Medical Response, Santa Barbara County Fire and CalStar.