Reno airport hosts mass casualty drill

The drill is in preparation in case there's ever the real thing. The FAA requires the drill every three years.
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 6:49 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Smoke rising from the airport. Emergency vehicles speeding to the scene. A passerby may have thought the worst. It was, in fact, just a drill, training for the real thing.

A good deal of effort goes into a mass casualty drill. First responders, emergency equipment, of course, but a fair amount of attention is dedicated to making it as real as possible.

Obviously, there’s no way of replicating the heart-stopping urgency of the real thing, but you can add some details to the setting to help. And they did.

“We have a lot of school kids that are playing victims,“ says Chris Jensen, the Chief Operations and Public Safety Offer at the airport. “And so that gives a sense of reality where we’re having to triage victims and evaluate. We’ll try to make it looks as real as it can.”

They used creative makeup to give their “victims” some realistic-looking injuries and asked others to add some screams and moans of agony. Finally, there were a few unexpected wrinkles like a guide dog needing resuscitation or a first responder needing first aid after being bitten by said canine.

“We do what we can to make it realistic but it does require a little bit of imagination as well.”

Altogether they created a scene in which you could enact all the tasks facing a community’s first responders to a big emergency at the airport.

It was all done under the watchful eyes of exercise evaluators, performance was noted, and graded—any problems identified for future drills.

These first responders are trained. They know all these skills. These drills, held every three years, give them the chance to practice them together for a day they all hope never comes.

“It’s an FAA requirement that we do it, but the real answer is we do it to make sure our crews can do it if we have a real incident.”