DuPage Airport drill simulates nighttime crash
Representatives from more than a dozen local and federal agencies recently took part in a live emergency simulated plane crash at DuPage Airport in West Chicago.
Participants in the emergency preparedness exercise included the West Chicago Fire Protection District, Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, DuPage County Coroner's Office, Central DuPage Hospital, the Salvation Army and several area police and fire departments.
"We are committed to the safety of our users, employees, neighbors and first responders," said Stephen Davis, chairman of the DuPage Airport Authority.
"This drill provides a great opportunity to work alongside our federal and local agency partners to ensure we are all prepared in the event of an emergency on or near airport property."
The simulation backdrop involved a commercial airliner making an emergency landing at night -- the first time the airport has performed a nighttime drill. The exercise was strategically designed to test response protocols, mobilization tactics and coordination among emergency crews with the backdrop of a nighttime crash.
To make the scenario as realistic as possible, officials used a burn prop and school bus to create an airplane fuselage with controlled flames. Crews extinguished the fire, triaged injured passengers, and treated and transported numerous victims to area hospitals.
Officials from the DeKalb Airport, Schaumburg and the DuPage County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management observed the drill to evaluate the exercise and provide feedback.
"These live scenarios are a crucial component of our emergency preparation and response training," said Chief Patrick Tanner of the West Chicago Fire Protection District.
"Our crews value any opportunity to work alongside local partners and other first responders to prepare for critical incidents that may happen at the airport."
The airport's on-site aircraft rescue and firefighting station is staffed around the clock to facilitate a quicker and more efficient response to any potential emergencies.
In recent years, the airport also has undertaken runway widening, lengthening and rehabilitation projects that help to ensure the facility can safely accommodate the more than 100,000 flight operations it serves annually.