Columbia airport runs emergency disaster drill

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COLUMBIA - Emergency officials conducted an emergency aircraft disaster exercise Thursday at Columbia Regional Airport.

Multiple local emergency response agencies took part in the drill, including Columbia Police and Fire Departments, Boone County Fire Protection District, Boone Hospital Ambulance Service and the University of Missouri Ambulance Service.

The simulation involved a burning aircraft, as well as volunteer actors playing victims surrounding the disaster site.

"After the drill is when we really figure out what we need to continue training on, what we need to improve on," said Airport Operations Supervisor Michael Parks. "That's the purpose of the drill, to find out where we need to improve."

The drill involved two separate scenarios involving aircraft emergencies. The first simulated an emergency plane crash with no previous warning to emergency responders. In the second scenario, responders were informed that an emergency landing would be taking place and were already in position to begin the rescue.

According to a news release from Boone County Emergency Management, "Emergency medical services and the fire service [were] called upon to triage patients based on pre-prescribed symptomatic conditions then determined treatment and transport priority based on patient acuity." None of the volunteer patients were transported off-site.

"This is an opportunity for all of the mutual aid partners to come together," Parks said. "It gives us a chance to find out where we can improve and what we can do better for the airport and the passengers."

Parks said this type of disaster drill is required every three years and that a live fire drill is practiced at least once per year.