Airport Drill Hones Communication Among Twin Falls Agencies

The disaster drill is required every three years and the scenario changes to test each agency’s preparedness. This year’s simulation included passengers with various injuries and a seriously injured emergency responder.

by Megan Taros, The Times-News, Twin Falls, Idaho / October 1, 2019

(TNS) — The front landing gear of the aircraft buckled as it approached the tarmac, causing it to flip on its side when it touched the ground. That was the simulated scenario that unfolded at the Joslin Field, Magic Valley Regional Airport Monday morning.

The Twin Falls Fire Department, Magic Valley Paramedics and other first responders conducted the emergency response drill.

The emergency drill is required every three years and the scenario changes to test the preparedness of each agency. This year the simulation included passengers who had varying degrees of injury and an emergency responder who had been seriously injured. A shuttle bus stood in for the plane that tipped over for the simulation.

“There’s a lot of agencies involved and they need to know how to work together,” city spokesman Joshua Palmer said. “It’s a well-orchestrated ballet at the end of the day.”

Participants from each organization and volunteers who posed as victims meet afterward to discuss what went well and what needs improvement. Suggestions help determine where more training and better coordination is needed.

“We’re blessed that we don’t live in a metropolitan area and that we’re a smaller community,” Jackie Frey, director of the Twin Falls County Office of Emergency Management, said. “It gives us the chance to review where our strengths and areas of concern are so we can build on them.”

Airport officials routinely meet with emergency response groups to discuss safety matters, such as evacuations and hostage situations, and how responses to certain events can be improved, airport director Bill Carberry said.

Carberry said that there was a consensus among agencies at the post-drill discussion that the participants got a lot out of the exercise. Something the airports and responders continuously work on is communication between parties.

“We always work on improving communication. It’s one thing that’s critical. That’s part of the nature of these types of situations,” Carberry said. “There’s a lot of information to pass around.”

Frey, who has been in her role for 22 years, said that it is important to know as much about the crisis responders as possible in order to be able to control a situation, decide where to take action and manage resources.

“Really the key is, if you don’t know who your partners are, their role, their responsibilities, then you don’t know how to manage this,” Frey said.

Megan Taros is a Times-News reporter and Report for America corps member covering the Magic Valley's Hispanic community and Jerome County. You can support her work by donating to Report for America at http://bit.ly/supportRFA.

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