Vega Airlines Flight 123 is on fire and burning on a runway at YYC Calgary International Airport and there are dozens of casualties lying on the tarmac. It’s a horrific scene.
But it’s not real.
Vega Airlines is a fictitious company and the casualties are volunteers from the airport community.
It was a full-scale mock emergency response training exercise Thursday at the Calgary International Airport.
Dubbed Operation Argo, the exercise involved the city’s emergency agencies reacting without knowing the exact details of the disaster scenario to make it more authentic.
Among the first responders taking part were the Calgary Police Service (CPS), Calgary Fire Department (CFD), Alberta Health Services Emergency Medical Services (AHS EMS) and the Transportation Safety Board (TSB).
“We can test our response in real-time in a real-life incident of this nature,” EMS spokesperson Stuart Brideaux told Global News.
“It’s an opportunity to try and apply a sort of command structure to bring some organization to what can otherwise be a very disorganized or almost chaotic event.”
The airport authority says the exercise highlights the importance of keeping travellers, guests, and employees safe and secure.
They tested response strategies, communications and coordination protocols.
“It’s one of the things that we are regulated to do, is to make sure that we are prepared for emergency situations,” said Jody Moseley of the Calgary Airport Authority. “So we want to make sure that our teams are working well, that we are responding quickly, that we are communicating well, looking at all those different parameters.”
The 90-minute exercise included a lengthy debriefing session on Thursday afternoon.
All of the participating agencies will examine what went right, what went wrong and how the overall emergency response can be improved.
A wrap-up report is expected in a couple of weeks.