The Richmond Ambulance Authority joined emergency officials from across the region for the Triennial Emergency Response Exercise at the Richmond International Airport (RIC). The exercise simulated a plane crash as agencies practiced their real time response to the event. A fire provided by the Virginia Department of Fire Programs helped to simulate an airplane on fire. Role players lined the runway simulating different injuries. Emergency responders had to quickly put out the fire and assess the injuries and the appropriate responses.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) mandates airports conduct full-scale tests of their Airport Emergency Plan (AEP) every three years. Such drills not only test the AEP, but also create a real-time practice environment for multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional response coordination that would be necessary in the event of an actual incident.

The drills are an important opportunity for regional organizations to practice training done through the National Incident Management System (NIMS). In emergencies that require regional cooperation, using common terminology, as well as identifying and filling roles recognized within NIMS, help make responses more efficient during an actual event.

Practicing real time responses also help all involved see what worked well and what could be improved. The invaluable exercise ensures everyone is more prepared to handle a similar disaster in the future.