Kahului Airport uses student ‘victims’ for mock emergency


Emergency crews carry a woman feigning a fractured pelvis as the result of a mock airplane crash at Kahului Airport during their triennial disaster preparedness exercise on Oct. 24, 2012.

By Reid Cairme, sports editor

Hand-picked students missed a day of school to be volunteer victims at the triennial Kahului Airport emergency response exercise on October 24, 2012.

The Hawai’i Department of Transportation stages the exercise is performed every three years so that first responders can practice dealing with a catastrophic incident on the runway. It also satisfies a Federal Aviation Administration requirement for airport certification.

“This is a real-life situation,” said Roni Gosalves, U.S. Aviation Services Assistant Regional Manager of Hawaiʻi. “Vehicles can kill, so safety is important.”

The incident simulated the crash of a Boeing 777, one of the largest planes that can fly into Maui with a capacity of 265 people, not including crew. Firefighters from Kahului Airport comprised the first wave of responders.

They used a special foam that cuts a fire from its fuel on a airplane training model. The foam doused the inferno almost instantly.

“The foam is our primary weapon against fires,” said airport firefighter Matthew Pires (KSM ’06).

Students acted as crash victims. They were covered in realistic make-up and familiarized with their mock injuires to prepare to interact with the responders. While some had a few minor burns and bruises, some were unconscious, had major internal bleeding, or were dead on arrival.

Once the fire was out, a second wave of ambulances and police officers arrived to assist.

Emergency response teams had to put the victims through triage, a system to prioritize the severity and, thus, the needs of the victims. Paramedics had to determine who would have the best chances of survival based on the injuries they sustained and assign attention and resources based on their assessment.

“It was cool to watch what the different procedures were for the various types of injuries that the victims sustained in the crash,” junior Kodi Joyo said.

Some students were tended to immediately, while some with lesser injuries had to wait for a long time before receiving any help.

With multiple commanders from the police, fire and ambulance crews, confusion would be inevitable without the Incident Command System.

The ICS was formed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and can be operationalized on a state level. All first response teams are required to be certified in the procedures.

“There was confusion during 9/11,” Gonsalves said. “ICS allows for one source of command and a better joint effort.”

“It’s nice to see our community come together,” said Ms. Brandy Cajudoy, field trip organizer and KSM teacher. “The activity exceeded my expectations.”

During the first meeting to plan the exercise, Ms. Gonsalves, also a parent of a KSM student, suggested that the high school students be given a chance to participate. Maui High School and Baldwin High School have both participated in previous years.

“KS is commended for being volunteers,” Gonsalves said. “We will be expecting them for the [next exercise in the] next three years.”

The exercise was also a chance for students to network and observe people in different careers  in action, such as firefighters, paramedics and police officers.

The students toured the Kahului Airport fire station as well. It was the firefighters from that station who were the first responders in the drill today.

“I’m hoping to be a firefighter,” Junior Mika Kane said.

The next exercise will be in 2015 when this year’s freshmen will be seniors.

“I would like to come back my senior year,” freshman Kayana Kamoku said. “It was a fun and good experience.”