Sumter emergency drill simulates F-16 crash

SUMTER, SC (WIS) - Emergency personnel in Sumter spent part of their day preparing for disaster by responding to a mock F-16 crash.

According to the scenario, an F-16 heading to Shaw Air Force Base had engine trouble around 9:15am and made an emergency landing at nearby Dillon Park. The park was full of people, and the landing caused mass casualties.

"The call came across to our 911 dispatchers by a cell phone that a plane had crashed in Dillon park," said Capt. Brian Horton.

"Aircraft had an engine malfunction, was not able to get back to Shaw AFB and the pilots has to simulate an ejection from the aircraft," said Maj. Cameron Nordin. "That's where the whole thing started."

Dozens of emergency personnel from the City of Sumter and Shaw Air Force Base spent much of Tuesday in a drill. "We're able to interact with the local community to get the real-world training with the should this scenario ever present itself," said Nordin.

Whether it's real or fake, all the details come together in the command post. It's the place where tough decisions have to be made to save lives.

"We're trying to move all the criticals at this time," said one responder. "We're just waiting on another ambulance. We're turning them over pretty quick."

Each step is important for training: Protecting the community, assessing damage and taking care of the wounded. "It's testing these responses," said Horton. "Our personnel being able to triage, get people out of harms way, getting them to EMS care."

Even in a drill, the focus has to be real. "If you're working that scene, you can't focus on injuries at that point," said Cpl. Hugh China.

Knowing how to work together is key. "Being in such close proximity with the military base as we are, it is imperative that all the entities within the city and the base have a very good working knowledge and working capacity with one another," said China.

"We see it in the news every so often unfortunately, these scenarios do present itself every once in a while," said Nordin. "Best we can do it be prepared if it did happen, hopefully it doesn't."