Real EMTs treated fake passengers with fake injuries after real fire trucks put out real fires ignited after a simulated plane crash at the airport on Saturday.

"Today we had put a fire on the runway to simulate the fire that would happen or may happen in the event of an aviation disaster," said Aaron Buck, deputy director of operations and public safety at the Casper-Natrona County International Airport.

The AARF airport fire trucks made the first move to put out the fire and protect the passengers as they left the plane.

The medical response drills normally are conducted outside near the crash site, but rain changed the plans so the passengers were taken by bus to a hangar, evacuated, and treated for injuries including shock, broken bones, major cuts and death.

The passengers were volunteers.

As they registered for the event, they were assigned with tags naming their injuries and given simulated body parts that could be substituted for Halloween costumes -- intestines (or brains) hanging out, major cuts and broken bones.

Some of the volunteers came from a youth program of the local boxing club.

Austin Fender had a broken arm and was able to stand and talk with one of the emergency medical technicians, he said.

Kennedy Marvel also belongs to the boxing club. She didn't have any visible injuries, but she was in shock, she said. "I was psychotic and refused to talk to anybody; throwing tantrums, you know."

Mardaret Rodriguez works for the Transportation Safety Administration. She had injuries to the front and back of her head, she said. "I want to vomit. I started walking and am (now) unconscious."

While they stayed in place, several of the passengers walked around asking or screaming if anyone had seen relatives of theirs.

Others remained in the back of the bus, which served as the plane's fuselage, and screamed for help as firefighters and EMTs tried to get to them and carry them out.

Some victims needed minor treatment, while others required a half-dozen people to roll them on back boards, lash them down with straps and apply tape to their heads to mitigate neck injuries.

Tom Morton, Townsquare Media

Some victims didn't make it.

After the exercise, Buck said the simulation had 11 fatalities and 34 survivors from the simulated crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration, he said, requires airports to conduct full-scale aviation disaster drills every three years with the help of local law enforcement, fire and medical agencies.

Besides the airport's own fire department, Buck said the agencies involved included those from Mills, Evansville, Bar Nunn, Wyoming Medical Center, and the Natrona County Fire Protection District.

Part of the exercise requires evaluations of how well the agencies coordinated events, assessed the crash scene, conducted triage, and treated the victims. Staff from the Casper-Natrona County Health Department were among conducting the evaluations.

The results from those evaluations won't be known for a while, Buck said

Saturday's exercies appeared to go well, he said. "We had, overall, a good event and we had some things we could learn from, and we'll move forward."


Tom Morton, Townsquare Media