Wednesday, March 14, was a busy day at Hollywood Burbank Airport.
Not only was the airport the location where three Osprey Aircraft and two Marine Helicopters were based for President Trump’s recent Los Angeles visit, but The Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, along with numerous local agencies, participated in an Airport Emergency Plan Full-Scale Exercise designed to test the airport’s readiness in case of a real incident.
Minutes after the aircraft used for the President landed around 9:30 a.m., pyrotechnics were set off in a field east of Runway 15/33, the Airport’s north-south runway where a fuselage and engine were placed simulating a crash landing. The explosion and fire, which were located at the engine, started the events of the day.
Crash Units from the airport were first on the scene (2:41 seconds from dispatch to arrival) and while one unit extinguished the fire, the others set up to rescue the passengers who were placed in the fuselage. EMT students from College of the Canyons and Glendale Community College volunteered as the victims needing medical attention at the scene. Volunteers reported to the site at 6 a.m. and were given a safety briefing and moulage makeup to simulate a variety of injuries.
Along with the Crash Units from the airport, there was a full call out of first responders from surrounding agencies. Emergency units from the Burbank Fire Department, Los Angeles Fire Department, Glendale Fire Department and the Pasadena Fire Department all were standing by in the area and responding to the scene as their anticipated emergency drive time from their stations warranted.
One of the primary goals of having all units respond on scene is for emergency responders to learn the rules of the airport when it comes to driving. When on the road, once a fire engine turns on its red lights and sirens, it controls the road. In an airport, all emergency vehicle are under the direction of the airport’s tower and must receive permission before traveling across runways and taxiways.
“The exercise evaluated our operational capabilities and emergency management in a real-time, unrehearsed simulation, and it tested the functions of our Airport Emergency Plan in an incident where multiple local agencies are responding to the scene,” said Executive Director Frank R. Miller.
Those functions included on-site incident command; victim rescue, triage, and treatment; management of friends and family; and communications and media relations.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires the Airport Authority to conduct such an exercise once every three years. Between the actual drill years, a ’roundtable’ is held each year to discuss emergency contingencies with all agencies. All agencies working together in a Mutual Aid agreement must be able to communicate and be on the same page in case of an emergency.
The Airport continued with normal operations throughout the exercise, which lasted approximately two hours.