Crews drill for plane crash response

An emergency drill at Gerald R. Ford International Airport. (May 15, 2014)

CASCADE TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Dozens of emergency crews Thursday practiced how they would respond to a disaster near the Gerald R. Ford International Airport.

Smoke could be seen rising from along the 5600 block of Kraft Avenue SE in Cascade Township — but it was only part of the drill. A bus played the part of an airplane that, in the scenario, would have crashed upon takeoff into a Lacks Enterprises facility south of the airport.

Crews also pretended the “crash” had caused formaldehyde to leak into the ground water.

Volunteers played victims of a mass-casualty event — though cool and rainy weather caused that part of the drill to be scaled back.

“They’re going to practice things like responding, making sure radios and communications work, which is always important. Hazmat response is here, responding to containing the chemical that would be released, and attending to the injuries of the people who’ve been hurt,” Kent County Undersheriff Jon Hess explained. “So everything that can be practiced is done here.”

The Federal Aviation Administration requires the training. Local authorities say it’s the best way to work out flaws in their response in case a real disaster strikes.

“If this would ever happen — heaven forbid — it’s important that we have these exercises,” Hess said.

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