Victoria airport to test emergency response this month

Simulated disaster scheduled to test area emergency crews on Sept. 29.

The 2012 simulation tested the capabilities of local first responders.

Four years ago, black smoke could be seen rising from the airfield at Victoria International Airport.

The runway was rushed by emergency responders from throughout the Saanich Peninsula, reacting to reports of a downed aircraft.

It was, however, all a  simulation, part of the required test of the Victoria Airport Authority’s (VAA) Emergency Response Plan. Transport Canada required that they happen every four years and another is scheduled for Thursday, September 29.

The VAA is letting the public know about the upcoming exercise — to both educate people about the safety precautions they take and to assure people that on that day, there isn’t really an incident going on. It’s a heads up that it’s only an exercise.

The training event will run between 9 a.m. and noon, simulating an aircraft incident on the property of the airport.

The VAA states regular airport operations will continue as normal — only with a large group of emergency responders on site.

As in 2012 — the last time the VAA tested their emergency response plan — there will be volunteers at the mock-crash site, simulating injured passengers. Others will play the role of family and friends in the terminal building. All will be clearly identified and notice of the event will be shared on the VAA’s social media channels and public address system.

Participating agencies will be: the VAA Fire Service; VAA Airport Security; NAV Canada; local airlines; terminal building tenants; Sidney North Saanich RCMP; BC Ambulance Service; British Columbia Coroners Service; Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA); OCC Westshore RCMP – 911 Dispatch; the Sidney, North Saanich, Central Saanich and District of Saanich fire departmens; Saanich Fire Dispatch, and; British Columbia Ambulance Service (BCAS) Dispatch Centre Victoria.

“Periodic testing of our emergency response plan is a critical component of our safety management system,” said Geoff Dickson, VAA President and CEO. “During the live exercise, airport operations and flight schedules will be unaffected, however the public may see emergency responders and related organizations practicing both inside and outside the main terminal building.”

— with files from the VAA