KGUN 9 On Your SideNews

Actions

Disasters strike across Pima County---as a drill

Posted at 7:08 PM, May 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-04 22:08:39-04
MARANA, Ariz (KGUN9-TV) - First responders swarmed Marana Airport Wednesday to cope with a wild series of one emergency after another.
      
There were deaths, and injuries----but they were all simulated as a test unfolded designed to stress emergency workers to the limit.
 
A light plane taxied up to a corner of the Marana Airport as part one of a simulation where first responders did not know what they would face.
        
At first they thought they were dealing with a plane that made an unauthorized landing, and crashed into this other plane in the process.
         
They don't know the small plane was hijacked, by a terrorist ready to fight.
 
"9-9-9.  I've been shot.” Is the radio call as an officer reports he was shot.  The terrorist was shot too.  Now other officers have to treat both wounded men, while they make sure the terrorist is no longer a threat.
       
There's simulated trouble on the other side of the airport too.
        
As the hijacked plane landed it clipped a plane full of people.   Firefighters treat the worst victims first.  For some it's too late.  They are Code Black---dead.
 
Another radio call: "At this time we have a triage count of 5 walking wounded, 4 black, 3 yellow, 4 immediate.  Give me a run down of the number of transports we have..."
 
What you can't see from the Marana Airport is the sheer size of this drill.  There are two incidents on the Marana airport grounds alone, and trouble drills going on in Tucson, at the U of A, at Sahuarita and at Oro Valley.  All of this designed to push the regional response to the limit and maybe beyond it.
 
 Radio: "I do copy a second incident in the county requesting helicopters and I have ten BLS units in route? That's affirmative."
      
BLS means basic life support, a basic ambulance.  Because this simulation has multiple casualties in multiple places across Pima County they are running out of ambulances.
 
"So we improvised,” says Captain Brian Keely of Northwest Fire District. “We brought in a school bus to bring in those patients who did not have life threatening injuries to transport them to a hospital.  We'll send staff with them but we use one vehicle instead of 12 to meet our goal."
      
Through it all, people wearing green vests are marking down the lessons learned.
 
Marana Police Sergeant Chris Warren says, "What things did we do right?  What things can we do better and are there any resources we are lacking that if a major event did happen that we would need for the future?”
        
Because first responders never know when the tough tests they practice can become real life.