Disaster Drills to be Conducted at Airport, Lewis Bay

A Barnstable Municipal Airport Fire Crew participates in the disaster drill in 2015.

HYANNIS – Dozens of emergency response agencies across Cape Cod will be participating in a full-scale disaster drill Wednesday afternoon.

The mock disaster event will simulate plane crashes at two separate locations – The Barnstable Municipal Airport and in Lewis Bay – at 5 p.m.

The airport is required by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct the in-depth exercise involving safety protocols every three years.

Airport Manager Katie Servis said events at the airport will test its emergency response plan and responders.

“The purpose of the drill is to go over those responsibilities to identify any actions we need to take to respond to an accident at the airport,” Servis said.

“It also helps us take a look at what we did right, what we did wrong, what we need to work on and polish up on, and to identify and critique ourselves so that we know how to do it better in case the accident really does occur at the airport in the future.”

Although actual aircraft will not be used in the drill, fire departments will be setting training fires and using other simulations to test the aiport’s emergency response plan.

Police and fire departments, Cape Cod and Falmouth Hospitals, the U.S. Coast Guard, FAA, Massachusetts Department of Transportation-Aeronautics Division, airlines, the American Red Cross, emergency management officials and agencies from other Cape Cod towns will participate in the exercise.

“When it involves a lot of different players that all have a part if an incident really were to occur at the airport how do we communicate with those folks?” Servis said.

“What are their responsibilities and how can they help the airport deal with a situation that could potentially occur.”

Community volunteers will also be used to play the roles of accident victims and will be transported to Cape Cod Hospital for simulated medical care.

A maritime component will also be included during the drill and simulate the rescue of victims involved in an plane crash in Lewis Bay.

The simulation will test the Cape Cod Maritime Mutual Aid System which is comprised of local fire departments, harbormasters and the U.S. Coast Guard.

Hyannis Fire Department personnel will participate in both situations.

“There is a lot of complexity and moving parts,” said Peter Burke, the Hyannis Fire Chief.

About 45 different agencies will participate in the two exercises.

“It is a large undertaking, however, it’s important to note that it provides us an opportunity to work with a variety of other stakeholders and mutual aid partners,” Burke said. “It’s really an opportunity for us to practice these plans and assure they work.”

Burke said it is important for the responders involved to buy into the realism of the exercises.

“I think the planning team has done a great job of doing that,” Burke said.

The public should be aware that there will be active police, fire and helicopter activity near the airport rotary in Hyannis and around Lewis Bay.

The airport will remain open to scheduled flights and the ferry lanes in the bay will not be impacted.

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