This is only a drill: Emergency crews simulate aircraft accident at Sea-Tac

Eight evacuation helicopters, more than 175 emergency vehicles and 300 victim volunteers are taking part today (Thursday) in a full-scale emergency exercise simulating an aircraft accident at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

The Port of Seattle is organizing region-wide emergency response partners and incorporating lessons learned from last year’s aircraft incident in San Francisco for this disaster preparedness and response exercise required every three years by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The exercise is scheduled to conclude no later than 1 p.m.

The exercise will not affect or delay any air travel. Both of Sea-Tac’s two other runways will be open as normal and the exercise will not affect any customer activity within the terminal.

Residents nearby the airport may notice emergency vehicles responding as part of the exercise, including several evacuation helicopters scheduled to arrive and depart from the west side of the airfield.

For the first time, the port will include in this year’s exercise multiple helicopter agencies to practice potential patient air evacuations. This comes on the heels of lessons learned from the SFO Asiana accident in July of 2013. Airlift agencies scheduled to participate include the U.S. Coast Guard from Port Angeles and Astoria, Oregon, U.S. Navy Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington Air National Guard – Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Snohomish County Sheriff, King County Sheriff, and Airlift Northwest.

Up to 300 volunteers will participate as "victims" next to the Port of Seattle Fire Department’s mock aircraft fuselage which will be located on the north end of the western-most runway (designated as 16R/34L, or locally known as the third runway). Volunteers arrived at approximately 5 a.m. for moulage (or make-up) to represent a variety of injuries that will test medical care triage practices.

Dozens of the King County area mutual aid police and fire agencies will participate in the exercise with an estimated 50 to 75 pieces of equipment from fire engines to aid cars and up to 175 fire fighters. Additional police officers from the area are also expected to participate alongside first responders from the Port of Seattle Fire and Police Departments, Sea-Tac Airport Security, Airport Operations, Public Information and the Port Environmental team.


In addition, other key exercise participants include airport and airline representatives, the FAA, Red Cross, King County Emergency Management Division, and the King County Medical Examiner.

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