Metro-East News

‘Partnership’ is key during airport mass casualty training

First responders from agencies across the metro-east and St. Louis converged on St. Louis Downtown Airport in Cahokia on Saturday to train for a scenario everyone hopes will never happen.

Mass casualty plane crash training featured real fire burning an artificial aircraft, college students made up to look like they were seriously injured and a half-dozen ambulances and their crews ready to triage patients.

According to St. Louis Downtown Airport Fire Chief Mike Mavrogeorge, the scenaio was that a jetliner with 54 passengers on it had crashed.

“Let’s make all the mistakes in training. Let’s find out where we need to improve in training, so that when it happens for real, that’s already been worked out.” he said. “It’s all about partnership. There’s no way one agency could handle something like this.”

The airport paid for the training, which Mavrogeorge said was offered to any of the agencies that would assist his department in responding to an incident at the airport. That included the Sauget, Dupo, Cahokia and Camp Jackson fire departments as well as ambulance crews and ARCH helicopter teams.

In addition to the plane crash exercise, public health exercises and a simulated mass fatality event for the St. Clair County Coroner’s Office also were offered.

The training exercises are held every three years.