Around 75 people have taken part in an important biannual safety exercise at the Bay of Islands Kerikeri Airport this week.
Volunteer actors from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe, alongside emergency services, helped act out a simulated aircraft incident scenario as part of the Airport Emergency Plan (AEP) exercise on Tuesday (November 7).
The exercise ran from 10-11:30am and featured four fire appliances, two ambulances and four police cars, testing the airport’s inter-agency response to a real-life emergency.
As the owner and operator of the airport, Far North Holdings Ltd (FNHL) is responsible for running the biannual exercise.
FNHL airports manager Dan Alexander said safety was of utmost importance to the organisation and was pleased with the outcome.
“The exercise went really well and proved we have a really robust emergency response in place and adequate resourcing available,” Alexander said.
“This is about testing the bigger emergency framework and I think everyone worked together well and our airport rescue fire service integrated well into the pre-existing procedures.
“It was also really positive to have our volunteers from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe and for them to get to see what goes on behind the scenes and play a role in testing the emergency services response.”
The incident scene was split into two sections, with section one imitating the front section of an aircraft (containing fuel tanks), with passengers (played by the students) careening into the fire training ground, fully engulfed in fire.
This sector consisted of a shipping container with internal seats and a steel tray fuel fire close by.
For section two, the tail end of the aircraft was simulated by a minivan containing the “injured” passengers and was situated to the side of the runway, with spot fires between it and the main fuselage.
Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Kaikohe Year 9 students Atarangi Harris and Te Arahi Nelson-Rogers were two of several students playing the injured passengers.
Both students played “status two” characters, with Harris acting as someone with a broken
leg and chest pain, while Nelson-Rogers played someone with severe facial burns and organ failure.
They said the experience had been exciting and unlike anything they’d tried before.
“It was fun and cool to be involved,” Harris said.
“We had to yell out ‘help’ and tell people what injuries we had.”
“It was pretty cool when the emergency services turned up,” Nelson-Rogers said.
In addition to the AEP exercise, the on-site airport rescue fire crew run weekly safety tests to ensure the facility is as prepared for an emergency as possible.
This training supports the larger emergency response, which means on-site crew can be at the scene within three minutes of an incident occurring and can assist until emergency services arrive at the airport.
“Each emergency service will respond differently and in accordance with their individual emergency response plans,” Alexander said.