TULSA emergency crews conduct a mock disaster at the airport

Thursday, May 17th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

You might have seen a lot of smoke and fire near Tulsa's International Airport Thursday. Emergency workers practiced responding to a plane crash.

KOTV's Donn Robertson explains this type of drill is very important. Dispatcher: "Engine 3-1, engine 1-5, engine 2-2." It's the type of call a police dispatcher never wants to make. Dispatcher: "Plane down, multiple victims." And emergency workers never want to hear. Firefighter: "smoke is showing." Dispatcher: "Engine 1-6, ladder 1-1, ladder 3-1, district 5” But it's something they need to practice.

Mike McCool with the City of Tulsa’s Emergency Operations Center says, "This is where we hone those communications and command skills so that we will be ready if the time comes and we hope it never does." Firefigher: "Unit fifty take the fire at the left." About 100 emergency workers helped in the mock plane crash just north of the airport. Firefighter: "I have a collar coming Mike." 72 volunteers dressed up as the injured. Each had specific injuries firefighters and EMSA workers needed to diagnose. They did discover ten of the victims were contaminated with radiation and jet fuel. Volunteer: "I think they did great. I never experienced anything like this, but is was quite an ordeal to see how everybody responded."

An EMSA dispatcher also tested some new software; she used the Internet to see how many beds the hospitals had left. In the past, EMSA dispatch spent a lot time on the phone. Kathy Miller with EMSA says, "It was a lot harder, we had to call every hospital individually, every 15 minutes." Emergency workers say one of the most important things about these drills is learning from their mistakes. Tulsa Fire Department Captain Hubert Rouse, "We will learn. We know we are going to do some things right. And we know there are some things we cold improve on."

Leaders say the 20 observers will find room for improvement although there were no blatant errors. They say you can never be too prepared.