First responders train for plane crash scenario

First responders from mid-Missouri are now better prepared to deal with a 50-passenger plane crash scenario, and a host of others.

On Monday, the Columbia Regional Airport conducted a tri-annual training excercise in which emergency personnel learn what to do in a plane crash situation. Dozens of volunteers participated in the event, which brought in students from University of Missouri to get made up as victims.

"It's gonna be scary. I'll have to brush up on my acting skills," one "victim" said.

As a makeup artist dressed volunteers as crash victims, firefighters prepared for their end of the training - laying out a plan of attack for the fire consuming a dummy airplane.

Fire Captain Martina Pounds said the training took place in segments, with each stage of the disaster broken down like parts of a play, to help responders understand exactly what to do.

"When different departments show up at different times with different apparatus with different capabilities, we want to make sure all that works well together," Pounds said.

In the scenario, a 50-passenger regional jet makes an emergency landing at the Columbia Regional Airport, injuring many. The plane catches fire shortly thereafter, necessitating a full response from fire and rescue.

Lt' Delwin Duncan says the training helps a lot. "You get a better understanding of the people you're working with, and anytime you're working with someone more, the smoother of a situation it becomes."

The simulator also helps prepare emergency personnel for dealing with something else. "I don't know that you're ever completely prepared to deal with the victims, because you're going to see things that most ordinary people never have to see," Duncan said.

Duncan said he's never had to deal with a real situation like the one he was trained for Monday. With the training, however, his department will be prepared just in case.