Airport staff and security will be on high alert in the late hours of Friday, April 24, even though no planes will be scheduled to arrive or depart at that time.
That’s because the LGB Air Ex 2015 Triennial drill, held every three years to adhere to FAA requirements, will take place. The drill simulates an emergency situation and puts all levels of airport response to the test. It is vital training that provides real experience to the airport first responders.
“It allows us to exercise our mass casualty incident policies and procedures, and take our personnel and run them through a large scale exercise,” said LBFD Battalion Chief James Underwood. “We are in a position to execute some of our plans and evaluate them.”
The Triennial involves multiple agencies, and is evaluated by the FAA. Hundreds of volunteers will be on hand to play many different roles that staff are likely to come into contact with in the event of a real situation.
The last time that Long Beach Airport hosted the drill was in 2012, when the daytime simulation involved a large aircraft with 95 souls aboard crashing into a small aircraft with four others aboard. Back in 2009, the drill occurred at night, and simulated a 6.4-magnitude earthquake less than two miles away.
The Triennial is also important because it brings many players together all at once.
“You’re going to interact with so many different agencies, and it helps you put a face to names,” said Karl Zittel, Superintendent of Airport Operations.
“We also can fine tune our emergency plan if we see items that need improvement, and update with the FAA to make sure that the plan is reflective of the lessons learned.”