Emergency disaster drill at Tyler Pounds Airport

TYLER (KYTX) - Don't be alarmed if you see flashing lights and a huge staged scene at the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport, it's only a drill.

An exercise that could ultimately save lives.

Fire fighters are lining up, getting ready to rush to the scene of an emergency.

All they're being told is it's a weather-related event just up the landing strip at Tyler Pounds Airport.

It's all meant to keep these first responders sharp, should disaster strike in the dark.

"On the airfield at night, it's a completely different environment," says Tyler Pounds Regional Airport manager Davis Dickson.

Dickson says first responders will be put to the test in a familiar lane, but with unfamiliar variables.

"What our goal is to be proactive, to keep our responders well trained, keep that edge sharp," says Dickson.

Thursday night's drill will focus on a weather related catastrophe, which could include handling passengers, damage to the airport and even spilled fuels.

And will include Tyler Police, fire, airport personnel and even federal agencies.

"Actually gives us the chance to practice those responses and in real time, actually come out and learn hands on with this equipment, be familiar with it," says Tyler Fire Department Training Captain Jeff Hudgens.

The exercise also gives first responders a chance to learn how to get past restricted areas, to gain access to doors to get inside.

And across town earlier in the day, nursing students at UT Tyler took part in a regional training session for medical triage centers.

"No matter what kind of nurse you are, when disasters happen like this, that's your job," says UT Tyler nursing student Tareyn Lauderdale.

Learning how to work through tough situations with lots of patients in need.

Drills like this that took place in 2007 at the airport that build real-life, real-time skills for those who need it most.

"The chaos is real and it's your hope it's the controlled chaos," says Lauderdale.

The lights won't flash on, and sirens won't sound for that drill until after the last flight comes in to the airport around 10:30 PM.

The airport manager says it will have a minimal impact on passengers.

They're also looking at what it would take to get the airport back up and running, and any environmental impact a situation could have.

First responders have been involved with staging disaster drills at the airport for the last 18 years.

Large-scale scenarios like this take place once every 2 to 3 years.


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