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PIERRE, SD- You can expect lights, sirens and a whole lot of activity at the airport later this week.
Thursday evening, from 5:30 – 7:30, the Pierre Regional Airport and Hughes County will conduct a full scale disaster exercise. The mock disaster scenario includes a hazardous materials response on a simulated aircraft. The exercise is required by the Federal Aviation Administration and designed to provide first responders and airport personnel with disaster response experience.
“This is really practice for all the responders,” said Mike Isaacs, Pierre Regional Airport Manager. “We do everything we can to avoid aircraft accidents, but we want to be prepared in the event there’s one we can’t avoid.”
Isaacs went on to say that the exercise requires all the activity that a real disaster would require. Those involved in the exercise will be assigned a variety of responsibilities that include everything from information gathering and dissemination to coordination of involved entities to response management to logistics and cost tracking.
“An Emergency Operations Center and Unified Command Post will be set up at the airport for this exercise,” said Isaacs. “They will serve as the hubs of all disaster response and recovery efforts.
Approximately 50 people will be involved in the exercise including volunteers, city and county officials, and first responders.
The Federal Aviation Administration requires airports with commercial air service to conduct a full-scale disaster exercise every three years. Additionally, the South Dakota Office of Emergency Management requires counties to conduct a variety of exercises throughout the year. The Thursday night exercise fulfills requirements for both Hughes County and Pierre Regional Airport.