• Boeing Field holds natural disaster training drill

    By: David Solano 


    SEATTLE - A drill of epic proportions tested emergency responders at Boeing Field on Thursday. 

    It involved a scenario in which patients were flown to Seattle from the scene of a natural disaster outside of Washington state. 

    In the scenario, a tsunami has hit Hawaii and those injured are being transported to hospitals in Seattle.

    The volunteers portrayed the victims.

    The exercise had to be approved by the U.S. Department of Defense. 

    A C-17 Globemaster landed at King County Airport at Boeing Field and was part of a drill involving patients from Hawaii, who are being transported from a fictional natural disaster into a safe zone in Seattle.

    Emergency responders moved quickly as they took the injured to nearby hospitals. Organizers wanted to paint a picture of what Boeing Field would look like if there were a major disaster.

    The volcanic eruption in Hawaii in May that continued for weeks is one example.

    Thousands were evacuated from homes and, if it had been worse, many of the injured could have been flown to Seattle.

    "That's kind of what we did today,” Staff Sgt. Jodi Signer, an aeromedical evacuation technician, said. “(We were) working with fire departments and civilian medical crews to come in and practice unloading and offloading on our stanchion systems. We have particular stanchion systems we use to keep the litters in place on the plane." 

    Organizers said Seattle is a federal coordinating cell and is the city closest to Hawaii if a disaster were to take place there.

    "We have the capability and we have the bed capacity here in the Puget Sound area to meet the particular requirements for these particular patients,” said Col. Jason Wing, who works as a Federal Communications Commission administrative officer.

    If a patient arrives with a service or comfort animal, they're prepared for that too. 

    "Any service animal then is triaged with a temperature pulse (to) make sure there is no diseases,” Capt. Margaret James, an emergency action officer, said. “They then go with the patient to the hospitals. Any comfort or therapy animals are then put into quarantine to make sure they have all their initial vaccines." 

    The exercise was planned for well over a year and is required for Boeing Field to maintain the airport's status as a part of the national disaster medical system.


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