In the simulated exercise the fire service, police, and ambulance staff, and other key agencies, as well as actors, were on the scene of a crashed-landed aircraft that had veered off the runway.
The exercise presented the scenario of a 15 seater aircraft, packed full of visitors (played by actors) to the island which had failed to land safely leaving many on board with minor to critical injuries.
Some were suspected dead, and a burning fuselage was about to explode.
Firemen on the scene first checked pulses, injuries and then rushed “survivors” to the side of the runway, while other firemen frantically prepped their tanker to put out the “blaze”.
It was the kind of incident emergency workers hope to never see, but must always be ready for, especially with the increase in the number of flights to the island, which has doubled in the last year since a similar exercise was held two years ago, says Airport Authority manager Mii Blenkarn.
Blenkarn was very happy with the big response from emergency services, who did not know what time the exercise was happening. He said staff displayed a good understanding of the importance of the situation they were preparing for.
“This year’s focus was on the actual crash site and the rendezvous point where all the resources are deployed.”
Control and coordination were the key areas checked in evaluating how the agencies worked together and their ability to follow procedures in their emergency plan.
Other emergency staff involved in the exercise included: hospital staff, Blue Sky, Island Admin, Tourism, Red Cross and MMR.
Marine Resources were also involved in the event, training for the eventuality that an aircraft crash-landed in waters surrounding the island.
Sirens were heard blaring through Arutunga as emergency services vehicles rushed to and from the scene of the exercise.
Aitutaki Police Sergeant Tukua Putu Abera said it only took him a few minutes to reach the scene and assist with the coordination of the exercise.
He said training was a valuable help in preparing emergency services for an actual incident, should one happen.