The Commonwealth Ports Authority conducted a full-scale Triennial Airport Disaster Drill last Friday morning at an open field near the airport runway, with a scenario involving a Boeing 737 airplane “crashing” on the runway of the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport.
According to acting CPA public information officer Joe Hallahan, the scenario depicted multiple injuries and required the participation of the CPA Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting division, the CPA Ports Police, Department of Public Safety, the Department of Fire and Emergency Medical Services, and medical staff from the Commonwealth Health Center.
Volunteers from the Public School System and the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps acted as injured crash survivors and were asked to behave accordingly in regards to the injury that was assigned to them to ensure the simulation was as realistic as possible.
The drill is a requirement under the Federal Aviation Administration’s regulations that requires each U.S. airport to conduct a full-scale drill every three years. Multiple government agencies, emergency response departments, and student and civilian volunteers all participated in the disaster simulation.
At the time of meeting with Hallahan, he and CPA were still in the process of gathering official response time numbers. The typical timing for a full-scale disaster exercise is two hours, and Hallahan expected a time of around or less than two hours.