Airport Disaster Drill This Saturday
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They come and go dozens of times a day, almost always without incident.
That doesn't mean the folks at Greater Rochester International assume takeoffs and landings will always go as planned.
"We are preparing for the worst,” said Mike Giardino, Airport Director.
This weekend, an airport runway will prove that.
"Casualties, the disaster, fire potentially. Wreckage."
Three to four hundred people will take part in an air disaster drill. An old school bus turned on its side will be used as a fuselage. One hundred and twenty volunteers will play the victims.
"We've been planning for this drill for approximately a year,” said Todd Bane, Airport Fire Chief.
Bane has worked here for 31 years. He's never seen a worst case scenario. The drill will prepare not only his department, but others, as well as police, EMTs, local hospitals and airport administrators in how to handle such a disaster.
"We need to know from an airport perspective and a community perspective that we're ready to handle this type of accident,” Bane said.
Bane traveled to Buffalo three and a half years ago when a Colgan Air flight crashed outside of Buffalo, killing 50. He says local responders learned from that crash, and its aftermath.
"Accidents do happen, aircraft are machines, and we need to make sure that when those accidents do happen that we're prepared."
"Whether it's on the property or off the property, it's our ability to understand how capable we are, how ready are we to respond,” Giardino said.
The drill is actually required by the Federal Aviation Administration. The goal is to make it as realistic as possible.
"If you see any activity... and they will see it from 390, don't be alarmed at all."
It's been nearly 50 years since Rochester's last deadly air disaster, when a Mohawk Air flight crashed during takeoff, killing seven.
Saturday's drill represents an exercise in readiness; one Airport officials hope they never have to put to the test again.