Dozens of agencies respond during massive disaster drill at SLC airport

Posted at 7:05 PM, Oct 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-10 21:05:42-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- A passenger jet crashing at the Salt Lake City International Airport: that was the scenario Friday afternoon at a massive disaster drill meant to test the emergency response capabilities of dozens of agencies.

Actors and dummies were used to represent the dead during a full-scale emergency drill at the Salt Lake City International Airport.

“It really gives a real world feel of... with the body count lying around, how disastrous it would be, and how overwhelming it is as an emergency to make an assessment when there are several people screaming for help,” said Captain Joe Bush of the Salt Lake City Fire Department's hazmat team.

In the simulation, firefighters worked to put out flames from a passenger jet that crashed while in route to Salt Lake City. Federal, state and local emergency crews went to aid the wounded

“This is as real of a scenario we can create in this environment," Said Jeff Thomas, who is a Battalion Chief with Salt Lake City Fire Department. "Of course, this is trying to create order during chaos--and that's our job, and that's our mission."

Hundreds of people were involved with the exercise, which took months of planning and preparation.

Devin Enright was among those who volunteered to play the part of an injured passenger, and he spoke about the experience.

“If this was a real thing and people were injured, I don't think I could handle that,” he said.

The airport has these types of drills once every three years, and their goal is to make sure that the first time these crews are working together isn't during a real emergency.

“Every time we have these drills, the first thing we identify is communication, and find holes and gaps and find solutions to prevent them in the future,” Thomas said.