Emergency Drill Highlights First Responder Preparedness

June 8, 2013 Updated Jun 8, 2013 at 6:32 PM EDT

By WKBW Admin

...
June 8, 2013 Updated Jun 8, 2013 at 6:32 PM EDT

NIAGARA FALLS (WKBW Dozens of fire, police, air force, and other first responders came out to the grounds of the Niagara Falls Airport to take part in a mass casualty exercise, a simulated crash of a C-130 airplane.

"This is a simulation of an actual accident and unfortunately they do happen. they happen all too often. but it's important that we respond as quickly as possible so we can save lives and minimize the suffering," Lt. Col. Mark Ables of the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station said.

"These trainings are invaluable. The officers, the fire department, EMS doing the training exercises, it's a way to make sure we know how to respond to these events if they were to become an actual event," Lt. Michael Garrity of the NFTA Transit Police Department added.

The first responders had to work together in dealing with simulated potential fires and injuries to several military actors, all while being evaluated based on performance to see what worked, what didn't, and what could be improved.

"Ultimately people work in real case scenarios how they practice for scenarios and it gives us the ability to respond affectively for the community," Captain Todd Ostrowski of the Niagara County Sheriffs Office said.

Many of the first responders know first hand the importance of training in case of an aviation emergency, as several were present following the crash of Flight 3407 in Clarence Center.

"The first 36 hours were just a huge undertaking. and the coordination of all the response agencies, first responders, federal agencies, state agencies, local agencies, county agencies, they all had to come together," Lt. Kevin Barnas of the NYS Police said.

"These guys are the best we have in the surrounding area, they've got really good guys work together and we'd definitely be able to handle something if it did happen," Joe Foucha, Assistant Chief of Training for the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station said.