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First responders practice in emergency plane crash simulation near Appleton International Airport

Every three years, the Federal Aviation Administration requires airports to conduct full-scale emergency drills
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Posted at 12:50 AM, Aug 17, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-17 01:52:31-04

OUTAGAMIE COUNTY (NBC 26) — If you saw flames and a bunch of first responders near Appleton International Airport on Wednesday, there was no need to panic.

It was all part of a simulated plane crash.

"I think it's something that's always in the back of our mind, and it has to be," Appleton International Airport Director Abe Weber said. "We want to make sure that we're ready, we're prepared, and that we can respond."

Every three years, the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, requires airports to conduct full-scale emergency drills with law enforcement, fire departments, emergency medical services, and other agencies.

"This is something that is just so absolutely important," Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson said. "I think if you look at what's going on here, you have coming together incredible resources."

ATW leaders said the simulation included a plane crashing with 186 passengers on board. More than 50 volunteers pretended being injured passengers in the crash.

"Fortunately, we don't have to have these types of incidents or accidents," Nelson said. "But it's so important that we come together and prepare for the worst."

ATW officials said organizations from the federal, state, and local levels teamed up for the simulation.

"There is a little bit of reassurance that we have a tremendous amount of professionals — law enforcement, EMS, fire — that are all here giving up their time to practice to make sure that our community stays safe."

Weber said personnel have done years worth of planning.

He said the emergency drill allows for an opportunity for everyone to work cohesively and get it right.

"We know that it's required by the FAA every three years, but we go beyond that," Weber said. "You know, we're practicing it more than that."