Second drill preps emergency responders for aircraft crashes

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

April 28, 2008 - Local law enforcement and ambulance crews participated in an airplane crash drill in Northeastern Hopkins County Saturday, the second such exercise conducted last week to test local plans for emergency situations by having emergency responders react to a simulated accident.

It was the third airplane safety training session coordinated in recent months through the police department's emergency management division.

Saturday, Hopkins County Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services, Sulphur Springs Police Department's Volunteers On Patrol, Hopkins County Sheriff's Office and the local chapter of the Civil Air Patrol all participated in Saturday's drill, in which the CAP "found" a crashed airplane. EMS crews then "treated" the pilot and took him to the hospital.

Last Tuesday, Sulphur Springs Police Department and Volunteers on Patrol, Sulphur Springs Fire Department, airport personnel and hospital EMS personnel participated in a drill. In the simulated scenario, an aircraft with five people lands, but in doing so the front end collapses off the runway, causing the tank to rupture.

"We hope never to have anything like this happen, but this is preparation just in case," said SSPD Assistant Chief Robert Stidham, who also serves with the Civil Air Patrol. "As with any drill, the purpose is to pinpoint different weak spots or failures, and modify the plan so we don't have them. No plan is perfect."

Radio communications was found to be the main problem participants in the drill encountered Saturday. Different solutions to eliminate difficulties in communications were suggested and will be utilized in future plans.

Tuesday's drill required five patients to be taken by EMS personnel from the crash scene to the hospital, where they were then triaged. Communications between the

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