Port Authority Tests Responses At Airport

BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
Staff Writer

Choreographed chaos broke out at LaGuardia Airport Saturday morning, for a yearly emergency response drill conducted by the Port Authority.

Close to 150 volunteers, splattered with red paint, dirt and fake guts, acted as victims in an imagined Boeing 737 crash. Many were sprinkled across the pavement, some pretending to be unconscious, some stifling laughter or chatting – others were led slowly out of the plane, coughing theatrically.

Volunteers played plane crash victims at a LGA emergency drill on Saturday, orchestrated by the Port Authority.  Photos by Jackie Strawbridge

Volunteers played plane crash victims at a LGA emergency drill on Saturday, orchestrated by the Port Authority. Photos by Jackie Strawbridge

Meanwhile, NYPD, PAPD and FDNY personnel whirred around the premises, attending to victims and a simulated fire, while a group of evaluators assessed their progress.

“The point of these drills, which we do at all of our facilities, all of our airports especially, is to make sure that in the event of an actual crisis that we are as prepared as possible,” said Patrick Foye, executive director of the Port Authority.

About 750 people were involved in the drill, from more than 20 federal, state and local agencies.

“Doing this drill furthers the goals of communication, coordination, first response and making sure that every step is taken and every second is saved,” Foye added.

In designing the drill, Port Authority Emergency Operations consolidated a number of emergencies to give all agencies a workout. The script included not only plane engine failure, but also detained passengers – a convict as well as undocumented immigrants being deported – who escaped during the scenario.

Volunteer Ed Moran found out about the event through the Nassau County junior firefighters organization. For him, the drill was a learning experience.

“[I enjoyed] seeing how everything is run more on the EMS side, and how they actually triage everybody and make the determinations on how people are going to be treated,” he said.

More than 20 agencies participated in the emergency drill.

More than 20 agencies participated in the emergency drill.

“I thought it was very well conducted, very well run,” Moran added.

Laure Delossantos, 16, was a first time volunteer at the drill. He joined the event through the New York City Police Explorers Command.

Delossantos, who played a crash victim who was unable to walk, said he was especially impressed by “how fast they came and just took me to bring me over here.”

“They know what they’re doing,” Delossantos added.

He said he hopes to participate in future emergency drill events.

The full exercise took approximately two hours, followed by several hours of investigation and evaluation.

Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, jstrawbridge@queenstribune.com or @JNStrawbridge.