May 3, 2014 6:29 pm

Mock disaster in southern Alberta has national benefits

A mock plane crash outside the Town of Coalhurst.

Global News

LETHBRIDGE- A mock disaster, being played out right here in southern Alberta, could help Canadians right across the country.

Lethbridge RCMP are playing host to dozens of first responders and police officers in a specialized training exercise.

After the scenario is acted out, those on the front lines will have a whole new understanding of what to expect if a mayday call comes in.

It’s a scene that would stop any first responder in their tracks; with airplanes, vehicles and multiple victims.

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The mock plane crash is all part of a training exercise to better prepare all agencies involved in responding to a disaster, spearheaded by Lethbridge RCMP.

“The scene is basically a two-plane collision. We have a main plane and a vehicle from a citizen that was hit by debris from one of the planes at the back, and now we have the fire department responding,” says Cpl. Jack Neri with the Lethbridge RCMP detachment.

Neri says the need for this specialized training is becoming important as plane crashes occur more frequently.

“When the next one occurs, they’ll be not as nervous because it’s always the unknown and they’ll have an idea of what needs to be done.”

For officers who have never experienced analyzing this type of scene, they’re gaining exposure before it’s needed.

“We can get an idea of what things are going to look like, we can then prepare for an event such as this and then react appropriately. We’ll share all of what we learn here today with our fellow officers,” adds Staff Sergeant Randy Topp with the Edmonton Police Service.

This training scenario could impact communities across the country, even the Department of National Defense is taking part, along with officers from communities across Canada.

Officers from the Waterloo Regional Police Service in Ontario are attending the training to get a better idea on how to plan a similar training exercise.

“We have an international airport in Waterloo and you just never know when you’re going to have something like this, so it was of great interest to us,” adds Staff Sergeant Warren Haasnoot of the Waterloo Regional Police Service.

The training exercise has two components: responding to the crash, and the forensics that follow.

State-of-the-art technology is being used to give these officers a bird’s-eye view of the scene.

“This incident will involve casualties. Therefore, the forensic team members will learn to help process the crash site and help record all the evidence,” adds Neri.

For those involved in the exercise, they say you can never be too prepared. Fire Chief Mathew Conte with the Coalhurst Fire Department says the training will be useful in any disaster.

“We are first responders, we deal with any emergency that comes up whether it be a plane disaster, railway disaster or a crash on the highway.”

The training exercise is located just east of the town of Coalhurst.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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