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Hope for the best, prepare for the worst: Butte airport hosts disaster drill

Posted at 2:32 PM, Nov 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-16 18:14:56-05

BUTTE – The scenario: A plane crash-landed at the Bert-Mooney Airport with many passengers injured.

“There were several burn victims that they had to transport, there was what they call walking wounded,” said Butte Undersheriff George Skuletich.

Fortunately, this was only a drill. But it’s important training to get all of Butte’s emergency responders ready in the event of the real thing.

“It’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of time put into it, but it’s well worth it, because the training we do here it actually works,” Skuletich said.

The Butte airport is federally required to conduct this mass training exercise.

“We’re required for our Part 139 certification to do this drill ever three years, however, we’re also required to do monthly training, our first responders train monthly,” said Airport Manager Pam Chamberlin.

Skuletich said, “Communications have been working pretty good so far and usually that’s a hiccup we have on every plan we’re on, so far the communications have been working pretty well though.”

One major part of the communications operations comes from this mobile command vehicle that keeps the crews connected with the command center even if its many miles away from the disaster scene.

“Be able to live stream video director to our emergency operations center, be able to access all of our different computer systems in the county, dispatch system, things like that,” said Butte-Silver Bow IT Supervisor Nate Watson.

Training for an air disaster like this isn’t just to give these first responders something to do, because unfortunately, but has had to put this type of training to use in the past.

“We’ve responded to three plane crashes, the main one being the plane that crashed in the cemetery roughly eight years ago in March. It’s something you don’t want to respond to, but it’s nice to do simulations like this so we know what to do once we get there,” said Skuletich.

Reporting by John Emeigh for MTN News