ALAMOSA – The San Luis Valley Regional Airport (ALS) held its first triennial full-scale exercise on Saturday.
ALS is required by Part 139 of the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct a full-scale mock plane crash every three years. While ALS just received its certification in November of 2020, ALS was required to have it completed its first year.
This exercise is to test local first responder’s readiness in an accident, specifically an aircraft accident. The FAA classification of ALS requires more than 20 passengers to be involved. ALS used a school bus from Alamosa School District to be a mock fuselage.
“A school bus is a very good simulation of an aircraft because of how tight it is inside and the number of seats, and the width is very close to that of a CRJ-200, the aircraft that United flies into our airport,” said Emergency Manager Eric Treinen, who was the exercise director for this event.
The exercise had nearly 100 people involved including actors who played victims, responders (players), evaluators, observers and the exercise development team.
The exercise started at 10:00 am with an announcement from a simulated pilot having difficulty with his landing gear. Brent Place from Eagle Air Med was the Simulation Director (SimCell) who was responsible for injects into the scenario. Place was able to add scenarios to the exercise, for example, a fuel spill under the fuselage or a drone pilot was trying to get pictures of the scene. The exercise concluded just before 12:00 pm and lunch was provided for all involved.
“The cooperation and the willingness of our local emergency responders is very encouraging that if we have a large-scale incident, we will be able to work well together to keep our community safe,” said Treinen.
Participating agencies included staff from Alamosa Airport’s ARFF (Airport Rescue and Fire Fighting), Airport Operations, Alamosa Fire Department, Alamosa Emergency Medical Service, Alamosa Police Department, Alamosa County Emergency Management, Alamosa County Coroner’s Office, Alamosa County Administration, Alamosa County Board of Commissioners, Conejos EMS, Alamosa Regional Communication Center (911 Dispatch), Emergency Managers from Conejos County, Costilla County, Hinsdale County, Rio Grande County and the Regional Field Manager from Colorado State Division of Homeland Security, SkyWest Airlines, Jackson Hole Airport, Pueblo Fire and ARFF, Eagle Air Med, City of Alamosa, Alamosa County Public Health, San Luis Valley Regional Hospital, Conejos County Hospital, San Luis Valley Emergency Planning and Response, Centric Aviation, SLV RETAC and JViation.