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First responders tend to a plane crash victim during the 2016 Triennial Disaster Drill at Marathon Airport.
First responders tend to a plane crash victim during the 2016 Triennial Disaster Drill at Marathon Airport.

THE FLORIDA KEYS MARATHON INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT CONDUCTED
TRIENNIAL FULL-SCALE DISASTER DRILL REQUIRED BY FAA

MARATHON – The Florida Keys Marathon International Airport conducted a full-scale disaster drill Thursday morning at the west end of its runway, with local, state and national agencies responding to a simulated crash of a Gulfstream 550 business jet that was represented by a Monroe County Transit bus.

“It’s the type of aircraft that flies here regularly, so it’s a very realistic scenario,” said Thomas J. Henderson, Assistant Director of Airports in Monroe County.

The Federal Aviation Administration requires such a drill every three years for all commercial airports with carrier service. While Marathon Airport does not currently have commercial service, the drill was conducted in order for the airport to retain its certification.

A Marathon Fire Rescue first-responder puts out a staged fire during the 2016 Triennial Disaster Drill at Marathon Airport.
A Marathon Fire Rescue first-responder puts out a staged fire during the 2016 Triennial Disaster Drill at Marathon Airport.

About 30 people actively participated in the crash response, 13 people served as victims and about 30 others observed. In the scenario, one person was pronounced dead at the scene, two people were airlifted to a trauma center in Miami via Monroe County’s Trauma Star air ambulance helicopter and the remaining victims were taken to Fishermen’s Hospital with a variety of injuries. A firefighter also was required to put out a small fire in a trashcan near the simulated crash.

The drill’s main objective was to test the community’s ability to respond. Incident Commander Eric Dunford, Deputy Chief of the City of Marathon Fire Rescue, led the massive response at the scene. Participants included: Marathon Airport Management, Marathon Fire Rescue, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Highway Patrol, Transportation Security Administration, Monroe County Medical Examiner’s Office, Fishermen’s Community Hospital and the Red Cross.

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