Rapid City Regional Airport tests emergency services with airplane accident training exercise

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On Saturday Rapid City Regional Airport practiced what they would do if a commercial airplane crashed on their property.

Black Hills FOX Reporter Katrina Lim takes a look as the airport tests the readiness of their emergency services.

Rapid City Regional Airport conducted their tri-annual emergency training exercise.

Fifty-three volunteer victims were moaning in pain as paramedics tended to their fake wounds.

The Rapid City Fire Department's spokesman says an accident of this caliber would be a multi-agency cooperative effort, and that it's critical for everyone to be on the same page.

Rapid City Fire Department Public Information Officer Jim Bussell says, "Because there are so many moving parts from the firefighting aspect to the rescue aspect, the triage, treatment, and transport aspect, and then the airport administration facets. We need to be able to come together and exercise those on a regular basis to make sure that in the event if something like this does ever happen, we are prepared for it."

The airport deputy director says one of the first things the airport would do is contact the airline.

Airport Deputy Director Matt Whitelock says, "If this was an actual airline accident, airlines have go teams. They have special response teams that handle those type of things. We would set up or designate a place for those people to go until those go teams could arrive and the airlines would take care of their passengers and their families as an airline function."

If a crash like this happened, the airport's fire station would initially facilitate victim rescue and fight fires until other organizations arrive.

Green level victims are considered the walking wounded, yellow level ones have some injuries, and red victims are critically injured.

Jim Bussell says, "The two main ones that we're concerned with are what are known as an alert 2 or an alert 3. Basically alert 2 means that an aircraft is having difficulty and it could potentially affect the landing of the aircraft and an alert 3 means that the aircraft has actually crashed."

Since Regional Airport is small, they would need to rely on other agencies like the police department, sheriff's office, and other fire departments to help them out.

Matt Whitelock says, "We're not a big airport like Minneapolis or Salt Lake City that they have all those resources at the airport. We rely on them responding from outside of the airport."

They refer to an aircraft accident as a high risk low frequency event.

Whitelock hopes it never happens, but he says they need to be ready for it.