Emergency officials prepare for 'worst case scenario' through di - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Emergency officials prepare for 'worst case scenario' through disaster training exercise

First responders training at a mock disaster event (source: KCBD video) First responders training at a mock disaster event (source: KCBD video)
First responders training at a mock disaster event (source: KCBD video) First responders training at a mock disaster event (source: KCBD video)

All hands were on deck today, as more than a dozen local agencies came together for a simulated disaster training exercise.

This is something the Federal Aviation Administration requires airports to do once every three years, and we got a behind the scenes look at the immense coordination it takes to respond to a major situation.

It’s an event no one wants to imagine: a plane crashing at the Lubbock Airport, leading to a mass casualty disaster situation.

Thankfully, everything we saw today was for a disaster response drill.

And though this situation would be the worst case scenario, our many city and county agencies do this training to make sure Lubbock is prepared.

"Fire, EMS, the hospitals, LPD, TSA, FBI. So it’s been a full response from all of our local agencies to the airport as if it was an actual crash," said Steve Nicholson, Deputy Director of Operations and Safety for the airport.

The training is played out in real time, beginning with response from Lubbock Fire and Rescue and EMS.

Then Lubbock Police responded to block off access to the airport and gather evidence.

"Something of this significance, the investigation, the scene, would need to be secured for several days. So we would set up a rotation to keep fresh people out on each of the perimeter locations I described earlier, and keep the perimeters secure as long as we needed to," Assistant Chief Neal Barron said.

And we began to realize just how many resources and people would need to be on hand for an event of this scale as we traveled to the other stations.

From the Emergency Operations Center fully staffed, mobile command units at the scene, and the local hospitals dedicating any and all available personnel to respond to victims and their families.

"I mean we’re figuring out how we can transport patients to other areas if needed, if they’re ready for discharge soon or what we can do to move. So it all just doesn’t happen here. It starts right here but then it gets way, way bigger," said Vanessa Milam, Nurse Manager of Covenant Adults Emergency Department.

The overall goal of this city-wide training is to make sure the communication process amongst all the agencies is effective, and to take a look at what areas may need improvement.

It’s all about practice and preparation.

"My sense was as I walked away, that as horrific and as tragic as this situation would be, that the county of Lubbock, the city of Lubbock, we’re going in the right direction in preparing for this," Chief Lubbock County Medical Examiner, Sridhar Natarajan, said.

"It’s good that we do these exercises just in case. Of course hopefully, nothing like this would ever happen. But I think we’re ready," Barron said.

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