Columbia Regional Airport holds emergency drill

COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Columbia Regional Airport held an emergency drill on its runway Monday, with emergency crews and first responders from across Boone County.

The exercise was part of a federal training session that happens once every three years.

Crews practiced a scenario in which a large, regional jetliner makes an emergency landing at the airport and then bursts into flames.

The first phase involved MU School of Nursing students posing as victims spread across the runway and field. After on-site triage, the volunteers were taken to University Hospital for an emergency room mass casualty drill.

Then, fire crews used a large prop training jet to simulate an airliner carrying 1,000 pounds of fuel erupting into flames on the tarmac.

Columbia Fire Department lieutenant Delwyn Duncan served as hazmat decontamination during this year's drill. He told ABC 17 News he has practiced in several similar drill at Columbia Regional.

"Each incident is different in its own right, just due to the unknowns of each particular situation you come across," he said.

Most of the firefighters at the drill Monday had never responded to a large airplane crash, but said the tactics and teamwork training used in the exercises could be implemented in places other than on the tarmac.

"We can take this incident and relay it back to normal everyday operations and so when we have a large scale incident on one of the major highways here in Columbia," said Duncan. "It runs much smoother because we have a better understanding of what the needs are."

Several agencies were at the drill, including local firefighters from Boone County, emergency responders from University Hospital and the American Red Cross. The Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri Department of Transportation, FBI and FAA are also on scene.

The training lasted about four hours, but did not interrupt services or operations at COU.

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