SULLIVAN COUNTY, Tenn. - Emergency crews were called to the Tri-Cities Regional Airport Tuesday morning, but it wasn't a true emergency -- it was a drill.
From the mock plane that lost its landing gear, to injured passengers, and fire and rescue crews, this scene had all the makings of a true emergency. "They know how it works on paper, now they're seeing it and trying it in real life," adds Sullivan County EMA Director Jim Bean.
Tuesday's drill included local high school students playing the role of passengers. "It was really interesting. We got to act like we were a patient or an injured victim and it was really interesting to play the part," says high school student Emily Long.
"We base this off a 50-passenger jet because that's our most prominent aircraft. This test scenario had 50 victims and a crew of four," says airport Executive Director Patrick Wilson.
Federal guidelines require the airport practice emergency scenarios once every three years. "The exercises are designed in a very meticulous manner. The communication seems to be good between the agencies, so it gives the opportunity to really exercise how agencies work together -- the response and setting up a triage area to evaluate wounded folks as they're carried off, and tracking those as they go to various hospitals in our region and even outside our region," Wilson said.
Many of the emergency crews responding are from different jurisdictions; we're told a drill like this one allows them all to work together. "It's important that, thankfully, we don't do this every day. So practicing keeps our skills sharp and we learn new techniques," adds Bean.
The drill lasted several hours. There were signs up around the airport and representatives inside letting people know the incident was only a drill.