Hector International Airport Holds Disaster Training Exercise

Actors playing victims were transported to the hospital, which was also holding a training exercise

FARGO, N.D. — There were plenty of emergency responders at Hector International Airport, but not for the reason you might think.

Two white buses played the part of an airplane disaster. First responders from the FM area practiced what to do in a real life airplane emergency.

More than 70 passengers were on board, and in the scenario, ten people died.

“I was looking for rapid treatment, how they were handling patients, just overview of what was going on with patient care,” Leon Schlafmann, emergency manager for the city of Fargo, said.

“We’re in a learning environment. We want to make sure we clear up any issues whether it be communications, manpower, how the agencies work together… we want to make sure things are working well if we have to put them in place for a real event,” Chief David Bush of the airport fire department.

Passengers were triaged based on their injuries. Even though first responders knew this was a training exercise, they didn’t know what kind of scene they’d be dealing with.

“You have a lot of new people that work for these agencies… that have never been involved with one of these types of exercises before. So it’s getting [everyone familiar] in the unfortunate event where something does happen,” Shawn Dobberstein, the executive director of Hector International Airport, said.

“Once we initiate the incident, everything is really organic as far as what the command and control people decide,” Bush said.

After getting off the plane, the actors playing the victims were taken to the hospital, which is also doing its own simulation of what would happen if a massive influx of patients came in.

“These things are designed to break the system. From what I heard they did find a few weaknesses. It’ll help us get better, God forbid something like this does happen. I was trying to play though in my head what it’d be like to be in that chaos,” Chuck Ulrich, a volunteer actor who works at Essentia Health, said.

Airport disaster exercises are done every 3 years to meet Federal Aviation Administration requirements.

Related Post