Disaster exercise helps train emergency agencies.

(WTVY News 4)
Published: Sep. 19, 2019 at 8:16 PM CDT
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Different agencies staged a complex disaster exercise to share and test their skills if tragedy strikes.

17 different agencies and more than 130 people played a part in this year's disaster exercise, to make sure everyone involved is prepared if a threat or disaster strikes.

The crash may look real but thankfully its not. It's part of a disaster exercise that took more than 6 months and 500 hours to plan.

"Everybody is getting to do a lot of different things and so its a big complex project, timing is very important on this but its going to be a good day and I think were going to get a lot of good practice out of this and hopefully we will all learn some good lessons as well," airport special project manager, Art Morris said.

The exercise, the biggest ever at the Dothan Regional Airport, involved 3 different phases.

Wallace Community College students posed as real victims. The first phase, an explosive device found during a security check.

"Being in an airport and taking my bag forever to come through, like whats going on, is there something in my bag that I didn't know about like how it would actually feel to be in the situation. Like I could feel my heart pounding,"student at Wallace Community College, Jeri Allison said.

Then a terrorist threat and finally the airplane crash.

"We test our plan, we know that our plan works and all of the member of the team know how to execute that plan should it happen tomorrow, next month or next year. Not just an airport disaster but any type of disaster in our community,"Dothan fire marshal, Chris Etheredge said.

From these results agencies will see what works and what needs to change. And for the people involved, a better understanding of what to expect if it were to ever happen.

"Once you're placed in a real world experience you can actually put your skills to work and its just not on paper taking in the information so you can learn from your mistakes," Jeri Allison said.

All the agencies participate in these disasters every 2 years.