Agencies to host plane crash drill Saturday at Bellingham airport

Local agencies will stage a full-fledged plane crash drill Saturday, Sept. 20, at Bellingham International Airport, complete with a fire and volunteer “victims” made up with a variety of realistic-looking injuries.

People may see smoke, emergency vehicles and an unusual amount of activity at the airport from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., said Marie Duckworth, communications specialist with the Port of Bellingham. The exercise will be set up on an older portion of the airport runway.

Firefighters will respond and put out a fire at the crash scene using foam meant to treat burning fuel.

The “passengers” will have makeup moulage applied early Saturday morning to simulate real injuries. Once assessed and treated at the scene, some of the “victims” will be taken to St. Joseph hospital, where personnel will go through the motions of treating the patients and helping their family members.

Some 200 people from the Port of Bellingham, PeaceHealth, local fire stations and police agencies, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Transportation Security Administration, FBI, Red Cross, Air Traffic Control, Whatcom Unified Emergency Management and airlines that fly into the airport, along with community volunteers, will participate in the drill.

The drill is required by the Federal Aviation Administration every three years so the groups involved in emergency response can evaluate how well they communicate and update emergency plans.