The Santa Barbara Airport was a hectic, bloody rescue scene yesterday as firefighters, medical personnel and the coroner’s office rushed to assist the “victims” of a simulated plane crash.
The airport held its triannual live disaster drill yesterday, based on the premises of a mock plane crash. Starting at 10 a.m., the drill was on-location at SBA for an hour before the “survivors” were moved to UCSB’s Multi-Activity Center for further treatment. Actors participating in the drill donned fake blood, bandages, death tags and wounds to make the accident look as authentic as possible.
During emergencies, the MAC gym is transformed into a waiting and counseling center before victims and their family members can be redirected to a hotel. The area was used as an emergency center in the past; most recently during last May’s Jesusita Fire.
Rec Cen Assistant Building Manager Robin Smith said the Triennial drill is held to inform the public about the resources, information and contacts that would be crucial during an actual emergency.
“[The] system is planned so that when a real event occurs, there is not time wasted,” Smith said.
The disaster drill is a mandatory county requirement meant to prepare local emergency organizations and personnel in the case of an actual major aircraft disaster.
“We are practicing setting up a holding area, [and] having counseling and a quiet room.” Smith said.
James Ceasar, who heads emergency planning for Environmental Health and Safety at UCSB, said the Rec Cen can serve as an overnight refuge in the case that local inns are booked.
“They are looking for a hotel where they house all the family and friends of the victims.” Caesar said. “They would need a big hotel [which] depends on the time of year and the tourism.”
Santa Barbara City College EMT student volunteer Mike Wathen said yesterday’s reenactment was a great experience to be a part of and an excellent volunteer training opportunity for those interested in disaster relief.
“I thought they did a good job,” Wathen said.