Airport tests emergency crews during simulated crash

The Victoria International Airport put its firefighters and other emergency response crews through their paces on Oct. 4.

A Victoria International Airport firefighter pulls a simulated victim from a burning aircraft (also simulated) during a training exercise Oct. 4.

A Victoria International Airport firefighter pulls a simulated victim from a burning aircraft (also simulated) during a training exercise Oct. 4.

A flaming wreck near the runway of the Victoria International Airport saw a quick response from firefighters, paramedics and police Thursday morning.

Quick response fire trucks got to the scene and doused the flames with fire retardant foam and firefighters cut into the fuselage of a downed aircraft to get to the trapped passengers inside.

It was all a simulation — an emergency preparedness exercise — designed to test the response times of the airport emergency services and the crews from the Town of Sidney and the North and Central Saanich fire departments.

“It’s part of our emergency preparations and we plan for it regularly,” said airport authority president and CEO Geoff Dickson. “It’s a regular event every four years to have such a major simulation.”

Dickson said the response to a fake downed aircraft at the west end of the airport, complete with live volunteer victims, flame, smoke and foam, went well and the emergency response department will review the effort to make sure they hit their targets. One of the main goals, he said, was to ensure airport fire crews can get the call, get on the tarmac and hit a fire with foam in two minutes.

“It went better than we could have expected,” said Dickson, adding there were some glitches with communications outside of the airport to their mutual aid partners.

Those would be addressed, he said, and improvements made to ensure a better result.

“It could happen here,” he admitted, “but the probability is pretty low. But we have to prepare for it.”

Read more about the exercise, and see more photos from the event, in the Wednesday Oct. 10 edition of the Peninsula News Review — and then check out more on our Facebook page.