Crash and fire drills at Cherry Capital Airport

Cherry Capital Airport officials conducted an emergency planning exercise in accordance with federal regulations.

Emergency responders from all over northern Michigan were in Traverse City on Wednesday to prepare for a disaster that they all hope will never happen.

The emergency responders were at Cherry Capital Airport but there was no emergency. They were at the airport for a training drill to help save lives.

The drill took place near the runway and simulated what would happen if a commercial plane and Coast Guard helicopter were to collide.

â??Even though aviation is the safest mode of transportation out there the reason it's one of the safest modes is because events like this. We practice,â?? said Kevin Klein, Cherry Capital Airport Director.

With planes and helicopters flying right next to the drill, multiple agencies came together to prepare for the worst case scenario.

â??In an event God forbid something real like this does occur we've trained, we've learned from any mistakes or anything we could've improved upon in training so when the real thing happens we're good to go,â?? said Jim Tuller, Traverse City Fire Chief.

The drill comes after several recent airplane disasters.

â??When we look at some of the recent events like in San Francisco the flight attendants played a major role getting passengers off the airplane in the first few minutes and then the emergency responders assisted in getting them to escape the area, so that's what we're practicing,â?? said Klein.

75 first responders participated along with nearly 50 volunteers for this drill. The volunteers played the role of victims and were given tags to let emergency responders know their injuries. These drills can save lives, which one volunteer knows all too well.

â??I traveled a fair amount of my business career by airplane. Many times I've been down the emergency chutes of an airplane,â?? said PJ Steeby.

The landing gear locked on the plane she was riding on seven years ago. Emergency responders were waiting on the ground as they landed.

â??They were very quick and very responsive and obviously they had done drills such as what we've done today.â??

Airport officials, emergency responders and Munson Medical Center meets for training and evaluation each year. The Federal Aviation Administration requires a drill of this magnitude once every three years.

â??It's really a community partnership that makes a day like today happen, plus when the real event happens the success of the first responders is what makes things go on,â?? said Klein.

Officials believe the drill opened up lines of communication that will help them if the airport experiences an aviation disaster.