Montgomery Regional Airport holds mock plane crash drill

Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:40 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The Montgomery Regional Airport conducted a full-scale emergency preparedness drill Wednesday morning to test the speed and effectiveness of emergency personnel and MGM staff in the event of an aircraft accident.

The FAA requires the emergency preparedness exercise known as the Triennial. Commercial airports, such as MGM, must hold such an event every three years to maintain their Part 139 Airport Certification, which allows commercial flights to operate out of the airport.

“You have to be prepared in a situation like this because you don’t know when it’s going to happen,” said Montgomery Regional Airport Police Chief Loyd Jenkins. “So, that’s why we do these exercises, to make sure we’re firing on all cylinders.”

The plane crash simulation gave emergency personnel a realistic idea of what to expect in the event of an accident. Student actors from Trenholm State Community College and Auburn University Montgomery performed as patients with mock injuries to help bring the exercise to life.

“Even if it’s just a drill you’ve got to treat it like it’s a real-life scenario,” said Matthew Smith, Montgomery Fire and Rescue Captain.

In a situation like this, the airport says air traffic control is first be notified, and within minutes the Air National Guard’s Fire Department steps in with help from local law enforcement, MGM Staff, and the Alabama Emergency Management Agency.

After the drill is complete, officials will go over the results and determine what improvements must be made.

“Part of that evaluation is to see what was great about it, what was bad about it, and what we need to do to fix it,” Jenkins said.

First responders who took part in the drill said the biggest improvement with this year’s exercise was better communication between agencies.

“What we did last time was we identified some radio issues. The airport, the airport police didn’t have our radio functions that we do with the city and the county, so they’ve been lent radios, so they have those now,” said Montgomery County EMA Director Christina Thornton. “That absolutely added to that connectivity and that coordination today.”

The airport says a crash of this extent has never happened on their airfield, but it has happened very close by. Two people were killed after a jet crashed off Selma Highway in 2021. It’s unexpected incidents like that, that emergency personnel are making sure they are prepared for.

The following agencies took part in the drill:

  • Montgomery City-County Emergency Management Agency
  • Montgomery Fire Rescue
  • Alabama National Guard 187th
  • Montgomery 911 Dispatchers
  • Montgomery County Sheriff
  • Montgomery Regional Airport Police
  • Montgomery Regional Airport Department of Operations
  • Alabama Department of Public Health-Montgomery County

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