You may have seen fire, smoke, hoses, and emergency crews Saturday morning at the Missoula International Airport. If you saw any of this from a distance, there’s no need to feel alarmed. Organizers and volunteers staged a mock airplane crash drill, in order to stay sharp in their skills.
Over 10 agencies in Missoula County came together and trained, as if it were the real deal.
“Drills like this are really important. Obviously, if we have an incident like this, everyone is going to kind of preplan in their brain of what their assignment is and what we need to do," said Forrest Merrill, Public Information Officer with the Missoula Incident Management Team.
A real incident did occur just a few months ago. In March, an airplane slid off the runway at the Missoula International Airport with 44 passengers on board. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.
NBC Montana is told with a drill like this, it gives medical responders a chance to apply their knowledge in case something worse happens.
"It gives our responders a chance to all work together. Big thing is getting all of these agencies to know how to operate on a scene together and have a unified command structure," said Merrill.
Over 100 volunteers played the roles of victims, complete with fake blood.
"My arm here is all burned up. First and second degree burns and I had abdominal cramping and what not and they triaged me and put me on a mat there," said volunteer Tia O’Neal.
"We can translate this to the bus accident that we had out by Clinton in the winter time and incidents like that is very similar to how we would respond to something like this," said Merrill.
"Terrible accidents don't happen every day and the training is good to keep up on," said volunteer Christy Cummings.
Various agencies in Missoula County train in a mock drill once a year. This one was full-scale, which is required by the FAA every 3 years.