ILM airport practices mass casualty exercise - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

ILM airport practices mass casualty exercise

Volunteers EMS practice checking vitals. (Source: WECT) Volunteers EMS practice checking vitals. (Source: WECT)
WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) -

Dozens of planes touch down and take off from Wilmington's International Airport each day. As a result, about 3,000 passengers are in and out of the terminals on a daily basis. With heavy flight traffic airport officials are not taking any risks when it comes to safety and efficiency.

"In ordnance with our FAA operating certificate, every third year we have to do a full mock exercise called a mass casualty exercises," said Julie Wilsey, the deputy director for Wilmington International Airport.

This year's mass casualty exercise consisted of 200 volunteers from New Hanover County's Fire Department, New Hanover Regional Medical Centers EMS responders, and the American Red Cross.

"It was very lifelike," said UNCW nursing student, Diana Ban. "It was something you would see in reality, and something you would definitely see on the news."

Once the Fire Department hosed off the plane with their new 1,500 gallon portable fire truck, EMS was able to take action.

"As soon as we got off of the EMS ambulance we saw different professional's triaging all the patients," Ban explained.

Passengers were scattered across the landing strip, and it was up to EMS to identify their condition and perform on-scene treatment. Once their condition was identified, the passengers were separated based on the severity of their injuries.

"The far line are the red tags and this line is the yellow," said an EMS worker, as she spoke to a confused passenger. "The yellow tags are being transported to Cape Fear Hospital, and the red tags are going to New Hanover Regional Medical Center."

When asked biggest takeaway from an exercise like this, Ban said, "It's been very humbling to see firsthand what a mass casualty can do to a person and their family. If someone were to lose a loved one, it was very interesting to see how we would react in that instance, since a lot of us haven't had experience with anything like that."

"Without all of these volunteers, and the county agencies coming together, we would never have be able to do this," said Gary Taylor, ILM Chief of Public Safety and Operations Manger.

The mass casualty exercise only happens once every three years. Airport officials, however, meet regularly to make sure passengers are as safe as possible.

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