ROCKFORD – The Chicago Rockford International Airport will hold emergency training and disaster response exercises on Saturday, May 4 in Rockford and Stillman Valley. The exercises will occur between 8 – 11 a.m. and include 150 local volunteers acting as injured passengers.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Transportation and Security Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, local police, hospitals, and Airport Rescue and Fire Fighter (ARFF) crews will be participating along with Greater Rockford Airport Authority staff.
The exercise will simulate the response to a crash between a general aviation aircraft and a passenger aircraft. Numerous emergency vehicles will be staged in the airport area as well as Stillman Valley. There will be two controlled burns from simulators in the area, so residents of those locations can expect to see smoke.
All of the participating agencies will be evaluated by a team of experts at the site. In accordance with FAA requirements, the airport must conduct a full-scale disaster response exercise every three years. Exercise objectives include testing communications, fire and police response, emergency medical response, multiple casualty hospital plans, inter-agency coordination and the incident command system.
Commercial and other flights at RFD will not be affected and will continue to operate as scheduled.
“This event is instrumental in keeping our first responders and staff sharp, prepared, and to learn to work as a team” said RFD Director Mike Dunn. “The best course of action for dealing with a possible incident is to maintain the highest level of preparedness.”
“The Rockford Fire Department and all surrounding public safety agencies take this type of exercise very seriously. We train daily for this type of incident and many others,” said Division Chief Matthew Knott. “Full scale exercises allow us to test our procedures and response capabilities to strive for continued improvement and provide an even safer environment for the citizens and visitors to the City of Rockford.”
“This is a great opportunity to show the regional cooperation and planning that goes on all year, every year to ensure that the citizens of Rockford and Winnebago County are protected,” added Rockford Fire Department Chief Derek Bergsten.
RFD is served by three passenger airlines (Allegiant, Apple Vacations, and Frontier Airlines) and is the host to UPS’s second largest domestic sorting facility. RFD currently has flights to nine non-stop destinations including Cancun, Denver, Ft. Myers, Las Vegas, Montego Bay, Orlando, Phoenix, Punta Cana and Tampa Bay. For more information on all flights, visit FlyRFD.com.