By Michael Christianson
A plane has crashed at the Dryden airport!
That was the scenario emergency workers and city staff had to contend with during a training exercise last week.
The scene on the ground looked like something out of a disaster movie, a fuselage in a field surrounded by debris. Also scattered around were injured passengers for the emergency crews to rescue. Meanwhile inside the hangar were city and emergency personnel coordinating their efforts.
Mayor Greg Wilson was on hand to learn the simulations lessons but he says the flooding event of last August gave him real world first hand experience the consequences of an unexpected disaster.
“This is exactly what I was looking for,” said Wilson. “There’s nothing like the pressure of this kind of simulation, and the chaos they manufacture, to make you realize how important everyone’s role is.”
The chaos of the simulation included a passenger who refused to leave the plane and another who was wielding a weapon.
The exercise was run in conjunction with the Loomex Group, the aviation and emergency management group provided the fuselage for the exercise.
CEO Trent Gervais was on hand from Peterborough for the simulation and said if anything happens in Dryden there is a dedicated force in place to rise to the task.
“We know something will happen, and if you look at aviation and aviation incidents, and years ago you have an incident here of course so this is where we get it right through these drills and exercises,” said Gervais. “What will come out of this is an after action report that will look at improvements to the emergency plan.”
Head of the Emergency Control Group CAO Ernie Remillard said the exercise went nothing like he expected.
“You obviously hope this stuff never happens but it’s one of those, you always have to be prepared. For me it was very stressful, you realize how much can go on and there are so many people and groups you are trying to coordinate,” said Remillard. “At the end of the day people are just concerned about their family members and want to make sure everyone is ok, so it was a really important exercise for the city of Dryden and we thank everybody for helping out, all these volunteer groups as well as police services and emergency services. That was a great learning exercise for us at the city that’s for sure.”