April 23, 2016

Simulated airline disaster tests airport and mutual aid emergency response

ROCK SPRINGS, WY ─ Airport emergency responders received realistic practice dealing with a full-scale simulated airline disaster at the Rock Springs-Sweetwater County Airport on Saturday, April 23rd. The “disaster exercise” formally called “Operation Broken Wing” is required by the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Security Administration every three years. The exercise included approximately 45 “victims” and “families of victims” played by local volunteers and actors.

“We try to make the exercise as realistic as possible so we can fully practice our ability to quickly and efficiently respond to any emergency that happens on the airport; particularly one that might involve a commercial airline or large private aircraft,” said Airport Manager, Devon Brubaker

The widely-used “Incident Command System” was practiced and rescue equipment and personnel responded as if in a real emergency.

Volunteers received full “moulage” or injury simulation makeup for the exercise. First responders practiced determining the extent of injury, treating on the scene and transporting victims to Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County. An old school bus and miscellaneous aircraft parts were used to simulate the aircraft fuselage. Airline personnel practiced dealing with “families” of victims at the terminal building. Volunteers also were asked to test the security of the airport by trying to gain access to the airfield.

Normal Airport operations, including scheduled airline flights, were not impacted and exercise planners took every precaution to ensure safety during the exercise.

The exercise demonstrated the effective coordination of various agencies, including Airport and Airline Personnel, Sweetwater County Emergency Management, City of Rock Springs Fire and Police Departments, Sweetwater County Sheriff’s Office, Sweetwater County Fire, Sweetwater Fire District #1, Wyoming Highway Patrol, Wyoming Department of Transportation, Sweetwater Medics, Castle Rock Ambulance Service, Sweetwater County Bomb Squad, Sweetwater Combined Communications, Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, Sweetwater County School District #1, and University of Utah AirMed, American Red Cross, Sweetwater County Board of Health, and numerous other agencies.
About the Rock Springs Sweetwater County Airport

The Rock Springs Sweetwater County Airport is a commercial and general aviation airport serving Southwest Wyoming and is located 7 miles east of Rock Springs in Sweetwater County. It is owned and operated by the Rock Springs Sweetwater County Airport Joint Powers Board representing both the City of Rock Springs and Sweetwater County. Serving over 40,000 commercial passengers and thousands of general aviation flights annually, the airport generates an annual economic impact of over $27 million to the local community and $31 million to the State of Wyoming.