Disaster Training Held at Long Beach Airport

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Mannequins lay on the ground near a plane during the Triennial Drill at Long Beach Airport on Friday night. This portion of the drill utilized a smoke machine to help simulate an accident that resulted in a fire, the aircraft filling up with smoke and the evacuation of all passengers on board.

Mannequins lay on the ground near a plane during the Triennial Drill at Long Beach Airport on Friday night. This portion of the drill utilized a smoke machine to help simulate an accident that resulted in a fire, the aircraft filling up with smoke and the evacuation of all passengers on board.

Long Beach Airport (LGB) held a live disaster training exercise on airport grounds in the late evening of Friday, April 24, 2015. The drill tested the speed and effectiveness of emergency personnel and LGB staff in the event of significant incident. Evaluators from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other organizations observed the event to provide valuable feedback that will be used to optimize all levels of emergency response at LGB.

“Safety is Job One at Long Beach Airport,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “This important exercise provides us the opportunity to work with regional and federal partners, maintain relationships and do everything we can to be as safe as possible.”

One of the most important aspects of the drill, which is held every three years, is the interaction among multiple agencies in a high-pressure situation. More than 500 participants were involved in the drill, including emergency responders, medical, airport and aviation personnel, and nearly 200 volunteers portraying victims and their families.

“This type of disaster training is critical to the continuity of operations at the Long Beach Airport should a disaster occur,” said Councilwoman Stacy Mungo. “I am impressed by the professionalism and resourcefulness of our staff and emergency personnel who are committed to ensuring we have a premier, stable and secure airport.”

The exercise began at 10:00 pm and did not cause any delays or interruptions to normal Long Beach Airport operations. Responses were conducted by the Long Beach Fire Department, Long Beach Police Department, Long Beach Search and Rescue, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Long Beach Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Communications Department. Medical support was provided by the American Red Cross, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health, Dignity Health St. Mary’s Medical Center and Liberty Ambulance Services. Additional support was provided by JetBlue Airways, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Mercy Air.

“The Triennial drill is a vital tool to ensure that our airport personnel and assisting agencies are able to execute a timely and proper response should a significant emergency occur on our property,” said Airport Director Bryant L. Francis. “The experience gained from a large-scale simulation such as this is invaluable, as it enables us to continue refining our skills and to update our emergency protocols accordingly.”

Volunteers acted as passengers that were affected by the incident, some of whom wore makeup as though they were severely injured, and both JetBlue Airways and American Airlines made aircraft available for the simulation. Evacuating passengers and extinguishing fires were initial priorities. Communications staff at Long Beach Airport, the City of Long Beach and other departments also worked closely together to effectively gather and release information to the community. Responders and airport staff were then scored on their efforts.

The FAA requires commercial airports to conduct these triennial drills in order to continue operating commercial flights.

Concurrently, with the drill, the Airport simulated its Aviation Security Contingency plans, as part of TSA’s triennial certification process. These TSA measures are activated when the Secretary of Homeland Security determines that a credible threat exists, as they may in an actual emergency situation.

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