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Emergency exercise at North Peace Regional Airport Wednesday

Don't be alarmed...it's only a test!
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Runway and taxiway at North Peace Regional Airport in Fort St. John.

If you happen to see smoke or emergency vehicles attending to a downed plane at the North Peace Regional Airport Wednesday, don't be alarmed…it’s only a test!

In fact, the correct term, airport manager Mike Karsseboom explains, is live safety and security exercise.

“Transport Canada, for airports of our size, require this type of drill every four years. In those other three years, we have to do a table-top exercise."

“It’s done to make sure we’re current in our emergency response plans and the way we deal with safety and security incidents," Karsseboom describes. "The scenario will be a simulated aircraft accident with an aviation security component in it.”

And, the company hired to set up the exercise isn’t telling anyone, including the airport, what the exact scenario. That way, crews responding to the mock exercise will need to treat it like an actual call and react accordingly.

The exception to the rule – fire vehicles and ambulances won't be racing to the airport. They’ll be in a staging area, already there, waiting their turn.

Among the groups taking part: airport services, fire departments from Taylor, Charlie Lake, and Fort St. John, BC Ambulance, and the RCMP.

“We will set up on the runway that won’t be in use, so it won’t have any effect on the regular operations of the airport, but still provide enough of a realistic situation for our participants.”

To add even more of a real feel to the exercise, Karsseboom says, actors with the Stage North theatre group will be portrayed as victims of the crash.

However, for safety and logistical concerns, the event will be closed off to the public.