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John Wayne Airport Conducts Full-Scale Drill

"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."

On Friday, April 11, more than 500 Airport employees, volunteers, observers and emergency response professionals participated in a mass-casualty drill at John Wayne Airport (JWA).  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 commercial aircraft, a Boeing 737 which is used frequently by airlines serving JWA, and a general aviation aircraft.  For the first time, the drill also included an on-site Family Reunification Center where “victim” passengers were reunited with other volunteers posing as family members.

Two Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) buses were used to simulate the commercial aircraft for purposes of staging "victim" passengers for the drill.  More than 185 members of local Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) participated as volunteer victims - their makeup adding to a sense of realism - and in other volunteer roles.  The South Commuter Terminal was used for the Family Reunification Center.

The drill started at approximately 9:30 a.m. with Airport Police Services providing a safe and secure airfield and perimeter surrounding the incident.  JWA’s Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Station #33 arrived on the scene first and extinguished a virtual fire associated with the crash.  Emergency responders then triaged and evacuated the victims.  Over 60 ambulances, as well as four helicopters, responded to the event to transport some of the “victims” to nearby hospitals.  The remaining passengers were led to the on-site Family Reunification Center where they were reunited with their family members.  This allowed Delta Air Lines and the American Red Cross to simulate a reception area at the Airport where volunteers acting as friends and families could be reunited and receive emotional and physical care, and support after such an incident.  The drill was concluded at approximately 12:00 p.m.

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.

John Wayne Airport thanks all Airport staff and the many volunteers and emergency responders who participated in the 2014 drill.  It is because of their assistance and support that our drill was so successful.

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John Wayne Airport - Eddie Martin Administration Building, 3160 Airway Avenue, Costa Mesa, CA 92626