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Emergency responders train for the worst at Yampa Valley Regional Airport

Matt Stensland/Steamboat Today
Emergency responders train Wednesday for a plane crash at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.
Matt Stensland/Steamboat Today

HAYDEN — With all the activity at Yampa Valley Regional Airport on Wednesday, it was daunting to see all the manpower that would be needed to deal with a commercial airliner crash.

The airport in Hayden was the scene of a simulated crash, and the scenario was staged as if a plane had crashed after experiencing a landing gear malfunction with 80 passengers and five crew members on board in winter during a busy ski season.

YVRA director Kevin Booth said the Federal Aviation Administration requires the airport to do a mass casualty drill every three years.

There were about 75 emergency responders and airport officials participating in the drill, and 32 volunteers dressed in makeup with props to simulate injuries.

One injured passenger was frantic as she carried her baby’s dead body in her arms.

The scene caused emergency responders to not notice that the mother was impaled, and as a result, she died during the exercise.

Routt County Commissioner Cari Hermacinski participated in the drill and said distractions like the frantic mother are purposely built into the drill.

During such an emergency, Booth said getting the runway back open for emergency traffic is a priority so that injured passengers can be flown to hospitals.

“That was a big objective of ours,” Booth said. “There is only so much capacity in our hospitals. Air is a logical way to go.”

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247, email mstensland@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @SBTStensland.


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