Beaches International holds emergency response drill

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Once every three years airports across the country prepare for emergency situations. The drills are designed to meet FAA requirements. Thursday morning, Beaches International prepared for an emergency situation.

"This exercise is where we will play all of the different parts of an emergency crash situation here at the airport. We have all of our mutual aid responders from the counties, and the cities, and the states coming out to see what we do, how we do it, where they should go and what they would be doing if they had to respond out here in an actual emergency," Richard McConnell, Deputy Executive Director of NorthWest Florida Beaches International Airport, said.

Thursday they simulated a mid-air crash between a commercial airplane with passengers on board and a small helicopter carrying two people. They used cars in place of the plane and helicopter. Airport executive director Parker McClellan believes the Arnold High School student actors helped create a realistic environment.

"The students add that element of realism and when they add that moulage, and the pole sticking through people and that poke in the eye. All those things help the first responders develop a sense of realism. It helps make it more of a realistic drill," said McClellan.

Some students had more gruesome fake injuries than others.

"I was impaled by a stick in chest and it goes through to the back as well. And then I've got some dust like I crawled out of the plane," Sara Ficke, a sophomore Arnold High School, said.

Many of the students believed the drill was important.

"I think it's important because people need to stay in practice. An emergency can happen in any given time," Michael Maniscalco, a senior at Arnold High School, said.

In the end McClellan is pleased with how the drill went.

"There's some little tweaks that I think we might want to look at. Overall our team did an excellent job [Thursday] with the assistance of our mutual aid agencies," said McClellan.