In the wake of the Asiana Flight 214 crash at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) last year, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommended that the airport make improvements to their emergency response. The July 6, 2013 crash injured over 180 people and led to the tragic deaths of three Chinese students, one of which was struck and killed by a San Francisco Fire Department vehicle.
In an effort to address the NTSB’s recommendation, SFO held a mock plane crash exercise today involving more than 300 volunteers playing the roles of passengers aboard a downed Boeing 767. The airport shut down a couple of runways for the exercise, which was designed to be as realistic as possible.
First responders heard an emergency call that a plane had crash-landed on one of the runways. Smoke plumed from the crashed plane as emergency crews rushed to the scene to help an unknown number of passengers with unknown injuries. The SFO emergency crews were able to practice fire fighting, first response, search and rescue, transportation, and triage. Michael Cordova, one of many volunteers, said he volunteered so SFO officials will know what to do if another incident like the Asiana crash should happen again.
Airports are required to hold drills like these every three years. SFO holds one annually, though this is the first time that SFO officials were able to practice the new crash protocols put in place in the wake of the Asiana crash. The new enhancements to the airport’s emergency response include the use of a common radio frequency shared among all first responders and a new emergency notification system, according to ABC 7 News. Lack of clear lines of communication was cited in the NTSB’s Asiana investigation.