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Over 300 people participated in emergency plane crash drill

Over 300 people participated in emergency plane crash drill. (Abigail Vaerewyck)
Over 300 people participated in emergency plane crash drill. (Abigail Vaerewyck)
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Local agencies participated in a full-scale drill of an aircraft emergency. Between regional first responders, local agencies, and volunteers, there were over 300 people on the scene.

Emergency Management and Division Chief, Andrew Ancho says the hard part of big simulations is making it feel real.

None of the agencies in town can dedicate all the resources necessary to make this exactly like it would be in real life. So there is some artificiality in any of these big exercises.

The goal is to make it as realistic as possible. Wednesday's drill had two buses attached together to replicate the size of a fallen aircraft. There was smoke representing where crews would have to put out flames and volunteers even played the role of injured victims in a plane crash needing treatment from paramedics.

Although the training is an Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirement, that's not the only reason crews practice this every three years according to Chris Jensen, Chief Operations and Public Safety Officer.

"We're doing it because we want to make sure our crews are prepared in the event that we had an actual incident," Jensen added. "We're talking all of our mutual aid agencies, whether it's the City of Reno, or Sparks or Truckee Meadows, Washoe County, all of the other agencies that we would rely upon if we actually had an incident out here."

It's that interagency cooperation that REMSA Emergency Manager Brian Taylor, said is key in a life-or-death emergency.

We usually put fairly new people in these positions. And this is a great opportunity for them to train, figure out what to do, and how to enact the plan without real lives being on the line.
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Even though the training was just a simulation, it helps save lives in real disasters. Officials say a great example is transporting an astounding 54 patients in just 62 minutes during the deadly 2011 Air Races in Stead.

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