Firefighters from St. Johns County Fire Rescue, Saint Augustine Fire Department and Grumman’s airport fire department came together for a simulated aircraft crash on the St. Augustine Airport’s infield on June 4, 2010.
At 9 a.m., the St. Johns County Comm Center sent out tones to bring fire apparatus and manpower to the St. Augustine airport for a reported aircraft down on the runway with 42 people on board. The tones were immediately followed by the phrase “...this is an exercise.”
Arriving units found “victims” wandering around the aircraft, smoke coming from the plane and passengers still inside, screaming for help. Firefighters entered the aircraft and started systematically removing passengers to a triage area on the opposite side of the runway.
Marking each passenger with a green, yellow, red or black tag helped another firefighter, the transport officer, decide who to send in an ambulance immediately and who could wait. The drill continued as if this were an actual accident and the victims, a group of volunteers brought in by the airport authorities, played their parts until the bitter end.
PIO Jeremy Robshaw of the SJCFR said, “ The drill went very well. Firefighters moved 42 people through triage in just under eight minutes." This means that most of the critically injured passengers would have received medical care within plenty of time to save many lives, had this been an actual crash.
Robshaw also said, “We will be looking at all the numbers to see where we can improve." The entire drill lasted about an hour then firefighters and apparatus began returning to their stations to be ready for the next incident.