Disaster drill set at airport Saturday

ESCANABA — The Delta County Airport, local emergency service providers, and other organizations will prepare for the worst during a pair of emergency preparedness events next week.

A live drill will be held at the Delta County Airport on Saturday, May 20. The drill will begin at 7:55 a.m. and is expected to last until 11 a.m.

“We are required to do this live drill every three years with the FAA,” Airport Manager Kelly Smith said.

During this drill, participants will go through two simulated emergencies.

“We are going through a hijacking and aircraft fire scenario for our drill,” Smith said. Representatives of Delta Airlines and their ground crew, the airport’s staff, the Transportation Security Administration, hangar tenants, and emergency service providers in the area (including Delta County Emergency Management Coordinator Bob Berbohm) will all be involved with the live drill.

The scenarios presented during the live drill will be portrayed as realistically as possible, in the interest of giving participants some idea of what it would be like to deal with similar situations.

“We’re trying to invent reality,” Smith said.

However, some compromises will have to be made.

“We won’t be using an aircraft — we’re looking for some type of vehicle that we can use,” Smith said.

Smith noted that, while people near the airport may hear sirens and see smoke on the morning of the drill, they will not need to notify the authorities about this.

“It’s a drill — it’s all a drill,” she said. She also said the airport’s phones will not be answered during the live drill.

The live drill will be preceded by a tabletop exercise in the airport’s maintenance garage, which took place Tuesday.

According to Smith, the airport is required to hold a tabletop exercise each year. This year’s tabletop exercise will function as a “dry run” for the live drill, allowing participants to talk through their plans for the drill’s scenarios before they attempt to execute these plans in real life.