On November 8, 2014, the scene at the Prescott Airport, Ernst A. Love Field, was one of flames, smoke and sirens. It was not a real emergency, but an exercise to simulate an airplane emergency.
The Prescott Police and Fire departments had been been planning the drill for several months in coordination with the Prescott Regional Public Safety Communication Center (PRCC), and other local public safety organizations. The exercise involved about 20 regional agencies and more than 75 participants.
According to Airport Manager John Cox, the full-scale airport emergency exercise/mass casualty drill is required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) every three years at all commercial airports nationwide. The drill, which began at 10 a.m. on Saturday, simulated a commercial passenger aircraft accident.
The FAA prescribes various aspects of the exercise, including the type of aircraft used in the simulation, and the number of "victims" to be treated, for the purpose of evaluating incident management and first responder readiness.
"We are very pleased with the cooperative preparation by city forces, Yavapai County, regional fire and emergency medical services districts, Yavapai Regional Medical Center, and nearly 20 other agencies that will be involved," Prescott Fire Chief Dennis Light said.
The agencies conduct annual "table-top" exercises to review emergency plans and to make refinements. Every third year, the agencies conduct a comprehensive drill to test their emergency plans and operational capabilities.