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Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport holds triennial full-scale aircraft accident exercise

Posted at 2:04 PM, May 06, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-07 11:09:16-04

BOZEMAN — If you saw a ton of ambulances and firetrucks headed toward Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport on Saturday morning, don't worry. It wasn’t a real emergency, it was the triennial full-scale aircraft accident exercise.

“Today we're practicing a regional jet aircraft having an accident here at the airport. There’s a number of fatalities and a number of injured. Working through the process of handling that if it were a real situation,” says Brian Sprenger, the chief executive officer of Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport.

He told me about the triennial full-scale aircraft accident exercise they held Saturday morning.

“We're looking at about 200 people involved in this today,” says Sprenger.

There was a large crew on scene. First responders included the airport fire department, mutual aid from Central Valley Fire District, ambulances, and medical aid from Bozeman Health Deaconess Regional Medical Center.

There were also 45 actors who volunteered as the injured and fatalities that first responders were able to practice life-saving procedures on. Sprenger tells me it’s important for all those involved in the mock accident to have this opportunity to work together.

“Especially in a situation like this. No one entity can handle everything. It takes a large group of people and a lot of people responding to handle the situation,” says Sprenger.

The full-scale aircraft accident exercise occurs every three years. Sprenger tells me as each year goes by, new technology is introduced to the airport and first responders, so they have to stay up to date.

“With changes in communication ability, new radio systems and things like that, it’s really important for us to get the opportunity to use those,” says Sprenger

The exercise lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the airport and was reportedly a success. But Sprenger tells me, although they’ve been performing these mock accidents since around the 60’s...

“Every time we practice, we learn new things about how we can do things better.”