Snohomish County’s Paine Field successfully completed a federally-required disaster exercise Thursday in which more than 40 air passengers needed to be rescued and treated for injuries.
Under Thursday’s scenario, the Paine Field Fire Department was required to respond to a collision between two aircraft on the airport’s Alpha Taxiway that resulted in a fire. About two dozen emergency and law enforcement agencies assisted in the drill.
To make the drill feel real, two aircraft were positioned on the runway, along with smoke machines and real “victims” – about 40 students from Kamiak High School in makeup to reflect injuries.
“The main purpose of these drills is to be sure our emergency plans are in compliance with FAA regulations,” said Paine Field Fire Chief Jeff Bohnet. “But it’s also just as important to test our skills in cooperation with other community first responders.”
Ongoing training is an essential part of Paine Field’s regimen, and preparation requires strong ties with other agencies to provide support. Large-scale drills such as Thursday’s are required once every three years by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Table top drills are used in the off years to build up to the actual hands on exercise.