Air Safe: Columbia airport hosts safety event to prepare for instance of disaster

WEST COLUMBIA, SC (WOLO) — According to the International Air Transport Association, the five-year accident rate for flights is less than two accidents per million flights.

While flight catastrophes may be rare, the FAA requires all commercial airports to conduct a training exercise called Air Safe in case of such an event.

“We are doing this training not only because it’s mandated that we do this, but it also allows for every individual that’s a part of this team to have a real life scenario to practice how to effectively and proactively respond in the event of a catastrophe at the airport,” said Kim Crafton, Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) director of marketing.

More than 400 volunteers helped out in Air Safe which takes several months to prepare for. The exercise simulated a van colliding with an aircraft on the runway.

“The first responders if it’s on our airfield will be the Columbia Metropolitan Airport public safety. Public safety individuals are trained fully in fire, EMS as well as public safety,” Crafton said. “They would be the first responders. We would also lean heavily on mutual aid agencies in the area as well.”

In addition to local firefighters and EMS staff, USC nursing and drama students as well as high schoolers helped out in the simulation. 

“We got to see a lot. They did a really good job simulating everything,” said USC nursing student Briana Marler.

She says the experience was helpful for her future career. 

“No one really knows how they’re going to react in a situation like this but I definitely think preparing and practicing helps you in a way,” Marler said.

CAE also has protocols in place to prevent an accident happening in the first place.

“Every single day our Department of Operations team is constantly sweeping the airfield, doing different rounds and ensuring that everything is in place to not have a catastrophe happen,” Crafton said. “The individuals in the air tower are in constant communication with individuals on the ramp or on the airfield.”

Despite all the safety precautions, Crafton assures CAE passengers that the risk is low.

“Flying is very safe but in the event that something were to go wrong, that’s why we train and practice Air Safe,” Crafton said.

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