Emergency responders have to be ready for anything. That's why crews in central Mississippi will stage a plane crash over the weekend for practice.

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Emergency Crews to Simulate Plane Crash, Get Practice

By Daniel Cherry | Published 01 Dec 2011 06:45pm | comments

Emergency management agencies in Central Mississippi are gearing up for one of their largest disaster simulations. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports how the practice run could save lives down the road.

Police officers, firemen, and other emergency management professionals often go through their daily routine unnoticed. But when the call comes, those men and women have to put on a number of hats for all kinds of disasters. Lieutenant Butch Townsend with the Pearl Police Department says that's why emergency crews will stage a large plane crash on Saturday.

"The old adage is: "You perform as you train." So the more realistic we can make a training scenario, and the more often we have training scenarios, the better it makes us when the real deal occurs."

The simulated crash will take place just outside the Jackson Evers International Airport, the busiest airport in the state. In nearly 50 years of operations there has never been a fatal accident involving a commercial aircraft. Dirk Vanderleest is the CEO of the Jackson Municipal Airport Authority. He says just because they have a clean record doesn't mean anyone can let their guard down.

"Part of it is practice, practice, practice just like the military does, they practice. We have that same requirement to ensure we have our men and equipment ready to go should we have a situation take place."

A Hydrochloric Acid spill happened earlier this week in Pearl. That shows anything can happen at any time. Captain Tim Sarrett the Emergency Operations Commander for Pearl says one of the biggest challenges is learning how to coordinate efforts between agencies.

"The more we train, the better we are prepared, the better we're going to be able to perform, and it becomes second nature to us. We use this training to find our weaknesses, so we can strengthen those areas so when the real thing happens, we automatically know what to do."

Crews from surrounding counties, MEMA, and American Medical Response will take part in the training exercise.

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