A week from tomorrow, firefighters from Portland and South Portland — as well as state and county emergency responders, local hospitals and Red Cross officials — will conduct their regular training on how to deal with a major catastrophe at the Portland International Jetport.
These types of exercises are not uncommon — they happen about three times per year — and sometimes they even have catchy names that make them sound like Mark Zuckerberg is going to be speaking or a new smartphone will be unveiled there (this year’s event is called “JetEx2013”).
The reason I bother posting about the exercise is not because it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event, but rather that it’s nice to know that first responders in the proximity of Maine’s busiest airport have the training to deal with worst case airport scenarios.
And because if you’re in the area of the jetport on May 18 and you see a lot of firetrucks and ambulances, you shouldn’t be alarmed. There may be some traffic congestion created by the responding agencies to the staged catastrophe, so be aware of that and plan ahead. But in terms of flights taking off and landing, the exercise shouldn’t have an effect.
The Elks Lodge on Congress Street will be the staging ground for the response trucks, in case you’re wondering.
Here are a few sentences from a city announcement on the topic:
The exercise required by the Federal Aviation Administration is designed to test the airport’s emergency plan and ensure that current policies and procedures are appropriate to respond to an aircraft emergency. The exercise scenario involves the emergency response to a fire that engulfs a commercial airplane during passenger boarding. The event will test first responders and local hospitals ability to manage a mass casualty situation.