What would happen if an airplane crashed into Okanagan Lake?
That is the question the City of Vernon Airport tackled in a table-top emergency exercise Thursday, Dec. 12.
Together with RCMP, BC Ambulance Service, Vernon Search and Rescue, Vernon Civilian Air Search and Rescue, Vernon Fire Rescue Services and city staff, planned a cross-agency response to the hypothetical situation.
“This tabletop exercise is a good opportunity for all the responding agencies to get together to work through the City’s Airport Emergency Response Plan,” airport supervisor Ian Adkins said. “An incident such as a plane crash could require the involvement of all these agencies.”
The agencies also heard from local pilots with the knowledge of aircraft types that are common at Vernon Airport to explain how to handle an aircraft if it crashed in the water.
“These practice scenarios help familiarize all agencies with the airport protocols and they support our regulatory requirement to hold a tabletop exercise annually, and a major practice scenario once every four years,” Adkins said. “I think everyone comes away with a good refresher on dealing with aircraft incidents and each time we learn something new.”
Vernon Fire Chief David Lind said exercises like this are excellent practice for executing plans in a cross-agency response.
“We build relationships with a number of agencies, identify gaps in emergency response plans and make adjustments in a safe environment,” Lind said. “These are important tools in emergency management.”
If a catastrophic air transport incident were to occur, the City’s Emergency Management Plan would trigger an alert on the City of Vernon website and those registered for emergency alerts would be notified through the VernonConnect mobile app or by email.
“As emergencies can happen any time, it’s vital that we all take steps to prepare ourselves and our families,” emergency program coordinator Sue Saunders said. “This includes planning how we will access important information during an emergency.”
To register for emergency information, visit vernon.ca/subscribe and enter your email address. Residents can also download the VernonConnect app, free of charge. Notifications will be sent to mobile devices during an emergency.