KEARNEY — For the first time since receiving its Class 1 designation, Kearney Regional Airport had a full-scale disaster drill Wednesday.
The drill is required by the Federal Aviation Administration to be completed every three years and was done in conjunction with the Kearney Volunteer Fire Department’s annual live fire training at the airport.
The drill took emergency responders — airport personnel, KVFD, Kearney Police Department, CHI Health Good Samaritan, Kearney Regional Medical Center, and Red Cross — through their procedures in the event of a real airport disaster. Medical responders also used the drill as a chance to train on how to handle mass injuries and causalities at their facilities.
About 25 members of the Kearney High School drama team, along with their director Kari Vyhlidal, portrayed victims from the plane crash.
“This drill will prepare us for a surge of patients and plan for our management of those patients while minimizing the impact on our existing day-to-do operations,” said Shanna Stoefer, a spokesperson for Kearney Regional Medical Center.
The drill lasted about 45 minutes at the airport but continued at CHI and KRMC as those facilities received mock patients.
The scenario involved a commuter jet trying to land at Kearney Regional Airport, but the landing gear didn’t completely deploy and the aircraft crash-landed at the airport. Kearney Regional Airport Manager Jim Lynaugh was in charge of the drill.
An Aircraft Live Fire training simulator from the University of Missouri Extension served as the mock downed plane. The simulator is an aircraft-sized prop that is remotely set on fire inside and outside the fuselage by instructors using propane. During the recertification, firefighters must put out fires from the cockpit, overhead compartments and galley to the passenger and cargo areas.
Outside the simulator, firefighters put out blazes on the fuselage, in the engines, wheels and a simulated fuel spill on the ground. They also saved mock victims from inside the fuselage.
One of KVFD’s pumper trucks and the Airport Rescue Fire Fighting trucks, which are located at Station Three at the airport, were used during the training.
The simulator travels around the country to train firefighters and is paid for with grants and funding from the FAA.