Guest Commentary: A plane crashes in Silver BayAnyone who remembers the Wellstone plane crash of 2002 or the crash of a light plane outside Grand Marais in 2003, in which two children were rescued and survived, knows that plane crashes can happen anywhere, anytime.
By: BJ Kohlstedt, Lake County Emergency Management coordinator, Lake County News Chronicle
Anyone who remembers the Wellstone plane crash of 2002 or the crash of a light plane outside Grand Marais in 2003, in which two children were rescued and survived, knows that plane crashes can happen anywhere, anytime.
Through the generosity of Aircraft Rescue Fire Fighting Specialists LLC and North Shore Oil and Propane, our local firefighters and emergency responders will practice their response to a fixed wing aircraft crash right in Silver Bay on Aug. 23. Because this is a only a exercise, the fire departments, rescue squads, ambulance personnel and law enforcement officers will meet earlier in the day, but the imagined “crash” will happen about 6 p.m., when flames and smoke will erupt from a special aircraft fuselage designed for these drills.
With all the flames, smoke, uniformed responders, trucks, sirens and flashing lights, it might cause quite a stir in town unless people know that this is just an exercise. Bystanders can watch from the shopping center parking lot, and someone will be available to answer questions from the public and the media.
Like any incident with a lot of people responding to help, the whole scene will be planned using the National Incident Management System, with everyone knowing their role and who is making the decisions. Firefighters will set up safety zones and control the blaze, while city police provide for safety of the public and protect the scene for later investigation. After the fire is contained, firefighters will remove victims from the aircraft and deliver them rescue members who will triage them into priority categories by their injuries. Ambulance crews will treat them at the scene until they can be sent to hospitals.
In our county, with the exception of law enforcement, all emergency responders are volunteers. They are your friends and neighbors, with real jobs and families, and some might not be able to make it in time for the first “crash.” So one of the ways a drill differs from real life is that this plane might crash more than once, until everyone gets a chance to practice, and until we think it’s going the best that it can. That’s one of the advantages of exercises. Because when something like this happens for real, we want it to go right the first time.