On Wednesday, May 4, first responders and law enforcement agencies across Pima County simulated emergency scenarios in order to improve multiple agency emergency response while acting in a unified command in the event of an actual emergency. One of the six scenarios occurred at Marana Regional Airport, testing the response and communication systems of the Marana Police Department, Northwest Fire, Avra Valley Fire, and Picture Rocks Fire.
In Marana's scenario, a small prop plane made an unauthorized landing at the airport, and in the process clipped a large passenger jet, causing both to crash on opposite ends of the airport. Police units received word of the incident, and arrived to the scene.
Upon reaching the scene, police officers were surprised by an armed suspect standing in the shadow of the smaller plane. After a quick gunfire exchange, the officers had apprehended the suspect - but not without their own officer taking a hit.
Meanwhile, across the airport, firefighters, police, and paramedics responded to victims aboard the passenger jet. These "victims," played by students from Marana High School, presented the first responders with a variety of injuries, each posing its own unique challenge.
LifeNet, which provides helicopter medivac services out of the airport, transported "victims" to nearby hospitals.
Throughout the entire scenario, all three fire departments and Marana Police secured the scene, coordinating civilians, media, and other personnel.
"Today has been an important learning experience for all of us," says Sgt. Chris Warren, Marana PD's public information officer. "As government agencies, we need to make sure we can work together smoothly and seamlessly, and today's exercise is helping us practice that skill, as well as helping us identify any gaps."