By STEVEN NALLEY
East Mississippi Community College students came to Golden Triangle Regional Airport in costume, painted with fake blood and bruises Tuesday.
They weren’t there for a Halloween party — 7:30 a.m. was far too early for that.
Instead, they were playing the roles of victims in a mock-up of an airplane crash.
Golden Triangle Regional Airport held its Triennial Disaster Drill Tuesday, training medical teams, law enforcement, firefighters and other first responders around the region to act in unison and harmony during a crisis.
Mike Hainsey, executive director of GTRA, said the exercise brought together a total of more than 15 agencies.
“The major challenge for us is the command and control of that many units getting in and going to the right place at the right time and saving lives,” Hainsey said. “That’s what this is all about. It’s all about responding and saving lives in case it’s ever needed.”
In addition to 18 EMCC students, the exercise also used a Delta airplane, a plane from Columbus Air Force Base and a smoke machine. An American Eurocopter helicopter was added in the later planning stages, Hainsey said, because the company expressed interest in joining the exercise.
Kathy Kenne, GTRA marketing director, said the resulting scenario was something she never wanted to see in real life.
“The scenario is that an air base plane ran into a Delta plane that was on approach, kind of limped on in and crashed into an American Eurocopter helicopter on the ground,” Kenne said.
The scenario also called for a search and rescue mission to save an Air Force pilot who ejected from the CAFB plane. The Golden Triangle Composite Squadron Civil Air Patrol, led by 2nd Lt. Jon Maynard, conducted this search and rescue mission, finishing in a little more than an hour.
“My job here is, I’m the civil air patrol liason,” Maynard said. “Whenever they need something from us, I talk to our guys in the air and make sure they get where they need to go.”
About an hour and a half into the exercise, Hainsey announced it was complete. He said the exercise was an “outstanding” success.
“There were really no major problems,” Hainsey said. “Everyone responded; we had control of everyone as they came and went.”