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Emergency response agencies practice disaster response at Fargo airport

D. Webster

Fifteen area fire departments, police departments, ambulance services and other first response teams participated in a disaster simulation at the Hector International Airport in Fargo this morning.

Airport Fire Chief David Bush says dozens of volunteers were on hand to play the parts of victims of an airplane crash. He says they are asked to “really be pains in the butt” to make the scene as chaotic – and realistic – as possible.

"The simulation is going to be that there was a collision between Citation-500 and a CRJ-900 aircraft. And they were just on the ramp, waiting to taxi, and the Citation ran into this commercial aircraft."

Bush says the FAA requires the teams to conduct a simulation every three years.

"When you talk about mass casualty incidents, you know - commercial aircraft usually have upwards of 60 to 200 people on them, which is well into a mass casualty event. And you have to bring in multiple agencies to take care of that; the communications between the agencies, the interactions, how they work together, how the command structure works - all needs to be practiced, so in the event of this really happening they have a good foundation to begin mitigating the emergency."

Bush says the teams are grateful for the participation of the volunteer actors. He says participation is not as high as usual, more than likely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.