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Posted on: September 19, 2011

Bellingham Airport Emergency Drill Saturday, Sept. 24

The Port of Bellingham and many community partners will conduct a full-scale airport emergency response exercise at Bellingham International Airport from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24.

The purpose of the response exercise is to test and evaluate the preparedness and capabilities of the Bellingham International Airport and local response agencies.

Although most of the drill will be staged within the airport boundaries, members of the public may see smoke, numerous emergency vehicles and unusual airport activity during the drill, as well as” passengers” with simulated injuries. The exercise, including more than 175 local volunteers and emergency responders, will evaluate coordination between agencies, mass-casualty response, public information dissemination, victim and family care, security and communications.

"Federal Aviation Administration regulations require a full-scale exercise once every three years to test an airport's emergency plan," said Daniel Zenk, the Port of Bellingham's Airport Manager. "This is an excellent opportunity for everyone to evaluate their skills."

The Bellingham Airport has experienced steady growth in the number of flights, number of passengers and destinations served. “Bringing everyone together to practice emergency responses is a great way to improve skills, determine areas for improvements and plan for future needs,” Zenk said.

Community volunteers taking part in the disaster exercise will be role-playing aircraft crash victims and victims' family members. Some activity will occur near the Emergency Department at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center where role-playing victims will be transported for a mock evaluation by hospital personnel and role-playing family members will be assisted by the hospital, airline representatives and the Mount Baker Chapter of the American Red Cross at the Health Education Center, near the Medical Center.

The organizations and agencies involved in the exercise include: American Red Cross-Mount Baker Chapter, Whatcom County Fire District #8, Bellingham Fire Department, Community Emergency Response Teams (CERT), Allegiant Air, Horizon Air, Mutual Aid Whatcom County Fire Districts, Port of Bellingham, PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, Air Traffic Control (Federal Aviation Administration), Whatcom County Sheriff's Office, Whatcom Unified Emergency Management, , U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, Transportation Security Administration, Whatcom Transportation Authority, Cascade Ambulance and the FBI.

MEDIA NOTICE: Most of this drill will occur in locked, secure areas of the Bellingham Airport Grounds. Reporters or photographers seeking access to this drill must contact Carolyn Casey by 3 p.m. Thursday to make arrangements for site access. Because of the nature and location of the drill, all media will be escorted during their event coverage to ensure their safety and the security of the facility.

CONTACT: Carolyn Casey- (360) 676-2500; carolync@portofbellingham.com

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