ADOT’s Grand Canyon Airport holds required emergency-response drill

Exercise helps airport staff, partner agencies prepare for the real thing

PHOENIX – As news about an airplane crash near the runway sets off an alarm inside the operations building at the Grand Canyon National Park Airport, airport managers begin following their emergency procedures as firefighters rush to tend to victims.

ADOT’s Grand Canyon Airport holds required emergency-response drillThis major drill that staff the Arizona Department of Transportation-operated airport completed recently is critical to being ready for the real thing. The exercise, required every three years by the Federal Aviation Administration, makes sure staff are ready to put the airport’s emergency plan into action.

The experience also gives airport personnel and firefighters an opportunity to put their emergency-response skills to the test.

“This is a great chance for us to practice what it would be like in a real emergency,” Grand Canyon Airport Manager Matthew Smith said. “It gives us a chance to evaluate our strengths and weaknesses and make adjustments where we need to.”

The scenario involved the crash landing of a 20- to 30-passenger aircraft, with airport staff and first responders responding as if it were a real emergency. Smith, along with other senior airport staff, manned the incident command room using radios to communicate with first responders. They filled out log books and went through the list of proper agencies to notify.

Meanwhile, first responders begin triaging and treating the “victims,” portrayed by local volunteers. They also practiced their search and rescue skills to find the victims.

The exercise involved about 15 participants from a number of local agencies and 14 volunteers posing as crash victims. Participants included the Tusayan Fire District, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service and Coconino County Emergency Management.

“The best thing about these exercises is getting the community involved and meeting the players who will respond to real emergencies beforehand,” ADOT Emergency Manager Kevin Duby said. “It makes you that much better of a team.”

For more information on the Grand Canyon National Park Airport, please visit azdot.gov/grandcanyonairport.