|One Scary Flight
by Stormy on November 03, 2007
All the scary things don't come to an end on Halloween night. Bad things can happen any time of the year and the weekend after Halloween was an interesting experience when it came to seeing how we can be prepared for disaster.
The Saturday after Halloween Colorado's North Central Region's CERT teams practiced responding to a large scale aviation disaster in Operation Phoenix. The drill was held at the Adams County Fairgrounds and the scenario had a midair plane collision. A DC-10, departing Denver International Airport, collided with a low flying Piper Cherokee, headed for the Front Range Airport. The local EMS responded to the larger crash, leaving CERT to handle the scene at the Adams County Fairgrounds.
Well over 100 people participated in this exercise, which was supervised by the Adams County Office of Emergency Management, the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Office and the Greater Brighton Fire Protection District. There was a handful of observers present, too, including one furry marmot.
Even though the fright of Halloween was behind us, volunteer role players were made up to look like they suffered through a catastrophe. The Piper Cherokee, in this scenario, lost all power, drifting into the fairgrounds from the west. It passed over the Riverdale Golf Course, smashed cars as it barreled across the parking lot and crashed into one of the livestock barns, leaving behind a trail of (simulated) burning fuel. To make things worse, the animal barns caught fire, trapping people inside, making access to the scene difficult and dangerous. Even though the volunteer responders were a large group, they had a large mess to deal with.
The exercise lasted three hours and was very educational to participate in. With any luck such a large disaster will not befall our area and no one will need to deal with burning fuel spills, injured people and smashed cars. But it is good to know that our emergency system is being designed to handle all contingencies.