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Deanne Thompson
Manager, Public Relations/PIO

News Releases

April 11, 2014


SANTA ANA, Calif. - On Friday, April 11, John Wayne Airport (JWA) conducted a full-scale mass casualty drill involving more than 500 volunteers, observers and emergency responders. Staged on the east side of the airfield, south of the Riley Terminal, the drill allowed Airport officials and emergency responders to test and practice operational capabilities in response to a simulated crash involving a Boeing 737 and a general aviation aircraft.

Fierfighters transport injured at AIREX 2014 at John Wayne Airport
Photography by: Kelly H. Williamson

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"While it is our hope that we never experience any of the emergencies we train for, we are committed to providing the very best response to our passengers, tenants and our community," said Airport Director Alan L. Murphy. "Drills like this are a key component of emergency planning and preparedness. We are proud to work in concert with our partner agencies to ensure the Airport is ready in the event of an emergency."

The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) provided buses to simulate the commercial aircraft for purposes of staging "victim" passengers for the drill.

During the drill, Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) arrived on the scene and extinguished a virtual fire associated with the crash.  Emergency responders then evacuated and triaged volunteer "victims" who were taken to nearby hospitals or to an on-site Family Reunification Center where they were reunited with other volunteers posing as family members. This allowed Delta Air Line and the American Red Cross to simulate a reception area at the Airport where friends and families could be reunited and receive emotional and physical care, and support after such an incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires that commercial airports conduct a full-scale mass casualty drill every three years to maintain Part 139 Airport Certification. In intervening years, JWA conducts tabletop exercises to review emergency response plans with its mutual-aid partners in a classroom setting.

In addition to John Wayne Airport, the following agencies participated in the drill:

  • Orange County Sheriff's Department, Airport Police Services were first on scene with 30 Deputies and Sheriff's Special Officers, nine Sheriff vehicles and one helicopter, providing a safe and secure airfield and perimeter to the incident.
  • Orange County Health Care Agency, Emergency Medical Services provided coordination and support of ambulance response, as well as coordination with the American Red Cross for patient location at hospitals.
  • Orange County Fire Authority responded with more than 50 vehicles and 200 personnel from Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Station 33 at JWA, neighboring fire stations and their engines, medic units, command vehicles, a heavy rescue vehicle and various support vehicles, including two helicopters.
  • American Red Cross, Orange County Chapter, simulated the creation and functionality of a Friends and Family Reception Center and a Family Reunification Center in partnership with Delta Air Lines and provided care and emotional support to victims and their families following the aircraft incident.
  • Delta Air Lines represented the airline involved in the incident and simulated their response to passengers, family and friends.
  • More than 60 ambulance rigs, coordinated by Doctor's Ambulance, responded and transported victims to area hospitals, as well as Mercy Air with an airlift operation.
  • More than 185 members of local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) participated as volunteer victims and in other volunteer roles.

More than 185 members of local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) participated as volunteer victims and in other volunteer roles.


John Wayne Airport (SNA) is owned by the County of Orange and is operated as a self-supporting enterprise that receives no general fund tax revenue.  The Airport serves more than nine million passengers annually and reaches more than 20 nonstop destinations in the United States, Mexico and Canada.  More information can be found at or at or on