Crashed plane, emergency vehicles at TIA: The emergency drill that's all too real

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Crashed plane, emergency vehicles at TIA: The emergency drill that's all too real

By Simone Del Rosario. CREATED Mar 19, 2014

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - "This is a mass casualty incident. We need all available resources."

No, this is not a real emergency: This is a drill. But it's as real as it gets to help our own forces prepare for the worst, and only Nine On Your Side takes you in the middle of the action. 

A crash landing, mass casualties and more than 100 passengers to evacuate: It may be a drill at Tucson International Airport, but the scenario is real and the players are kept in the dark. 

So the crash may be staged, but the actions these passengers and first responders make on the ground are real. 

"Heavy smoke showing west side of the aircraft," a voice comes on over the radio. 

The scenario: The plane skidded off the runway and crashed, then caught fire. Emergency crews spray foam retardant on the flames. 

The next step: To get more than 100 passengers off the plane. 

"Please prepare for patient evacuation," a voice over the radio says. 

But not everyone will make it out alive. Dozeons of agencies around Tucson are called in the help.

The response time is real; the triage is real; the injuries are realistic. 

"If we waited until something actually happens to find out if we're capable of doing that --- it's too late," said TIA's Chief of Public Safety John Ivanoff.

"Whether we learn from a tragedy from another place or whether we develop some new training technique that will save more people or help more people, we have to test that and this is the perfect opportunity to do that."

In TIA's training exercise, six people died from the crash -- many more airlifted and carted out in ambulances. 

But at the end of the drill, everyone goes home in one piece and more prepared in case of emergency. 

The Federal Aviation Administration requires large airports like TIA to perform these emergency drills every three years. Twenty local and national organizations participated.