A full-scale training exercise to simulate an aviation emergency at Jamestown Regional Airport on Aug. 5 was successful, according to Katie Hemmer, director of the airport.
Several local emergency response agencies conducted the training exercise, simulating a plane crash on the runway with 50 passengers and three crew members. The exercise was broken into two parts: the crash scene at the airport and Jamestown Regional Medical Center.
Volunteers wore makeup to mimic various injuries, and 10 were transported to JRMC to be evaluated and treated by staff in the emergency department. Jerry Bergquist, emergency manager and 911 coordinator of Stutsman County, said an added dimension to the training was conducting it while actual emergency patients were treated.
"We wanted to make the exercise as difficult as possible without making it impossible," Bergquist said. "We wanted it to be just difficult enough so that it was still a learning experience."
The training exercise was as realistic as possible, Hemmer said.
"We use these exercises to evaluate emergency response times, communication with law enforcement and execution of the emergency plans we have set in place," Hemmer said.
"We treat it like it's the real deal," said Trisha Jungels, chief nursing officer at JRMC.
The airport has no medical emergency staff on site, according to Hemmer, making these training exercises crucial to evaluate how quickly emergency departments are able to respond to the area.
A training exercise is required once every three years to maintain government certifications, Bergquist said, and the hospital is also required to complete the training as an accredited hospital.
"It killed two birds with one stone," Bergquist said. "I think this year's was very successful."
Beth Schwartz, public information officer at the Central Valley Health District, also believed the exercise was beneficial to the emergency departments.
"These exercises allow us to see where strengths and weaknesses are in the individual departments," Schwartz said. "It allows us to be prepared for the worst-case scenario."
Bergquist said the training exercise doubles as team building for the emergency departments, bringing everyone together to practice as a team.
"Stutsman County and Jamestown is a pretty close group of departments that have worked well together for years," Bergquist said. "The sheriff and police department, both fire departments, the ambulance personnel and the hospital staff all work well together, and this exercise gives them the opportunity to show that."
Participating agencies and organizations included Jamestown Regional Airport, Jamestown Regional Medical Center, Jamestown Fire Department, Jamestown Area Ambulance, Jamestown Police Department, Stutsman County Sheriff’s Office, Stutsman County Communications Center, Central Valley Health District, North Dakota Highway Patrol, American Red Cross, Freedom Resource Center, SkyWest Airlines and Stutsman County Emergency Management.