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Full-scale simulated aircraft accident at Eppley Airfield a 'critical learning opportunity'

Preparation for first responders
Posted at 12:30 PM, Oct 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-24 13:30:06-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — It's something people at Eppley Airfield hope never happens, but they prepare for it in case it does.

"What we're doing today is simulating a major air carrier accident," Steve McCoy, the Chief Information Development Officer for Omaha Airport Authority said.

It's so that responding crews and community partners can prepare and test their response to situations like these.

Here's the scenario: an aircraft accident unfolds during departure from Eppley Airfield involving 60 people on board. This is not reality, but preparation for what could be.

"On an exercise like this, realism is a very key component for first responders. We have an aircraft simulator mock-up fueled by propane which will actually be set on fire. Crews will be responding to, to extinguish," McCoy said.

In the exercise, there were 100 participants including 30 actors, playing victims of the crash, and 18 agencies.

Shauna Benjamin-Bryce plays the part of an aircraft crash victim, helping first responders practice how to prioritize the different severity levels of victims in a crash.

"This morning when we got here, they assigned us our roles and they dressed us up with dirt and grime and fake blood," Benjamin-Bryce said.

To save lives is not just an act of heroism but also a craft requiring persistence, practice and planning.

"Every time we do this, we learn something new, we take that with us, This exercise is going to be another critical learning opportunity to improve our processes. On an exercise like this, realism is very key for our first responders," McCoy said.

The Omaha Airport Authority conducts this exercise once every three years and is required by the Federal Aviation Administration.

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