Emergency responders train for airport disaster

By Beau Ebenezer

April 12, 2014 Updated Apr 12, 2014 at 10:19 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- Saturday morning, emergency responders participated in a real-life simulation of a plane crash at the General Wayne A. Downing Peoria International Airport.

It was a disaster on the runway.

Seven mutual aid fire departments were on site, assisting the Illinois Air National Guard in a full-scale emergency drill.

"We received a call that an aircraft was in distress," said Director of Peoria Airports, Gene Olson. "It was a Derka Airlines MD-80. 50 souls were on board. The distress call was fumes and smoke in the cockpit."

A federal mandate requires emergency response teams and the airport to put on a simulation like this every three years.

Saturday's scenario had 11 people killed and several injured.

"The mass number of injuries that they had was difficult," said Illinois Air National Guard Assistant Fire Chief, Mike Bachman. "We try to get them triaged right so they can have the best care possible. Then we can get them out of here. They like use the "golden hour" concept, where you have everyone transported within an hour. I think we did a pretty good job of that."

Crews said they were able to work out any communication kinks.

In-case of a future emergency, they will be ready to respond within minutes.

"It's good to use our mutual aid system so we know how it's going to work in a real situation," said Staff Sgt. Taylor Webb. "You never know."