CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — If you noticed any commotion at Yeager Airport early Monday morning, the public wasn’t in danger. The flames, firetrucks and first responder agencies were all a part of a triennial exercise that focuses on the safety of passengers.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires Yeager Airport to conduct an exercise like this one, every three years. But those with Yeager conduct them at least once a year. “If you go to the physician or doctor, do you want one that says, hey, I performed this surgery three years ago and did pretty good? Or do you want one that says we just did this last month and did fantastic,” said Russell Kennedy, the operations manager at the airport.
Multiple agencies like, the Kanawha County Emergency Management, 130th Air National Guard Fire Department, and law enforcement participated in the exercise. Student volunteers also played a significant role in the training.
“It’s nice to kind of see them from other first responders’ perspectives other than just hey we’ve got this many people coming in, and this is what’s wrong with them. We actually get to see what went on,” said Amber Clere, a student at New River Community and Technical College.
The airport uses exercises like these to see what works and what doesn’t in an emergency situation. “We’ll sit down after and do an after-action review and maybe take a look at what we need to change in our airport emergency plan and make it work better for the next trip,” added Kennedy.
The drill also prepares first responders for any type of situation. “It helps keeps the person’s skills up if there ever is a situation like this. But also, all of us are completely different. You never know how any of us are going to react. They had me sitting in the pilot seat and I was supposed to be acting kind of delirious, kind of crazy, kind of give them a little bit of a hard time,” added Clere.
Airport officials say the main reason they do this – is for the precious cargo.
“It does get our mutual aid partners together, but in the end it’s the safety of our passengers that’s paramount.”Russell Kennedy, Operations Manager at Yeager Airport