Missoula Montana Airport to Conduct Full Disaster Drill
KGVO News spoke to Airport Director Brian Ellestad and Associate Director Tim Damrow about the event that will start at 7:00 a.m. and end at about 1:00 p.m.
Damrow laid out the event.
“It's kind of a big series of events starting early in the morning,” began Damrow. “We'll be checking volunteers in here at the airport. We've done a sign-up here for the last couple of weeks soliciting volunteers or volunteer actors as Brian had mentioned. During the morning we will be simulating the disaster out here at the airport. So there will be a number of emergency vehicles responding to that simulated event.”
Ellestad said this will be the first such full-on disaster drill in utilizing the new airport terminal building.
“You know, it'll be interesting because this will be the first full-scale exercise we've done when we're in the new building, but in the actual operational response, there shouldn't be a material difference,” said Ellestad. “Again, we try to simulate different events each time we do this, whether it's tabletop or a full-scale exercise, but certainly it's going to add some kind of logistical nuances that people may or may not be used to, and that's the whole purpose of these drills is to identify what new issues do we or don't we have in the new facility or any operational or layout changes to the airport? How might those effects you know our emergency response plans?”
Damrow laid out more details of the event.
“It's a full-scale response out here, so we do have a burn simulator, which is basically what our fire rescue teams use to practice aircraft-related fire rescue response,” he said. “They've been out for the last week or so practicing also with our mutual aid agencies, they've had a chance to see that simulator work alongside our team, which has been a nice relationship-building exercise. So that's going to be obviously integral in the drill tomorrow, as well as again, incorporating all those mutual aid agencies, anywhere from ambulance crews to hospitals to help simulate what an incident out here at the airport might look like.”
Ellestad said the most important part of Friday’s simulated disaster drill will be actually inside the airport as they break down the incident.
“So I think probably the most important part of this drill especially for our staff is going to be that debriefing afterward,” he said. “We'll all get around the table, talk about what worked, what didn't and how can we improve on it next year. So seeing a handful of these take place over the last, you know, 5 to 10 years, you always see progress. The team's always building on what went well from prior years and those experiences are always taken into events going forward.”
The simulated disaster drill is scheduled to begin at about 7:00 a.m. and there will be community members playing the parts of crash and burn victims.
The public will hear lots of emergency response vehicles headed out to the airport, but it will only be a drill.