Airport tests bomb alert procedures

On the tarmac at Red Deer Regional Airport on Wednesday, police and other emergency responders tested their ability to handle an emergency that could be pulled out of international headlines.

RCMP set up an observation post at the Red Deer Regional Airport during a mock hijacking scenario on Wednesday.

SPRINGBROOK — On the tarmac at Red Deer Regional Airport on Wednesday, police and other emergency responders tested their ability to handle an emergency that could be pulled out of international headlines.

A bomb has been reported on a plane carrying nine passengers and two crew, all now being held hostage by an unknown armed assailant.

Over the next few hours, emergency workers will try to find a way to end the standoff safely and defuse the bomb.

Liam O’Connell, CEO of Red Deer Regional Airport, said Transport Canada requires annual emergency drills, and every third year the exercise must be live.

What that meant on Wednesday was nearly four dozen RCMP, county firefighters and patrol officers, airport staff, search and rescue volunteers, and staff from NavCanada and the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority were gathered to face the unknown.

“Most of the folks coming into this don’t know the scenario,” said O’Connell. “What we do is keep adding to the scenario so every agency is involved.”

Air Spray recruited two crew members and donated one of their Lockheed Electra water tankers for the exercise. Volunteer Red Deer County firefighters stepped in as passengers on the ill-fated flight from Fort McMurray. Since the airport remained open, the local flying clubhouse was converted into a makeshift control tower and centre of operations.

As the operation got underway, an RCMP negotiator established contact with the cockpit and was assured that everyone was safe, but that every word of their conversation was being heard by the hostage taker.

Outside the tower, the RCMP’s bomb unit truck was parked and emergency response team members from Red Deer RCMP huddled to discuss their next steps. A bomb-sniffing dog was also available.

The plane was parked just off the runway behind a hangar and media invited to the airport were prohibited from taking any images that might give away police tactics.

Ric Henderson, the county’s director of planning and protective services, said the main goal of these kinds of exercises is test the ability of various agencies to communicate with each other and co-ordinate their efforts.

Ways to improve the response were identified and will be discussed in a debriefing that will follow.

Red Deer Rural RCMP Cpl. Andrew Shepherd said the emergency dry runs are useful in establishing lines of communication and the roles each agency will play in a real situation.

“I think (the exercises) are very important.”

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Red Deer to get new plan to end homelessness as problem persists

Despite some successes there’s ‘a long way to go,’ says manager

Canada ranks 16th on World Economic Forum’s annual gender gap list

TORONTO — Canada has landed the 16th spot in the World Economic… Continue reading

Steel, aluminum tariffs impacting one-third of Canadian exporters: poll

OTTAWA — More than one-third of Canadian exporters say they have been… Continue reading

Canada has fifth biggest AI workforce, but still lacks diversity: study

TORONTO — Canada has the globe’s fifth largest artificial intelligence workforce, but… Continue reading

Air passenger rights: Six things about what the Liberals are offering in draft rules

OTTAWA — The Liberals will publish the draft text of their long-promised… Continue reading

Chabot scores overtime winner to lift Senators over Predators 4-3

OTTAWA — Thomas Chabot saw an opening and he took it. And… Continue reading

Canadian Marielle Thompson earns World Cup ski cross bronze in season opener

AROSA, Switzerland — Canada’s Marielle Thompson captured bronze at the opening World… Continue reading

Canada doesn’t make Oscars short list for best foreign language film

LOS ANGELES — Canada is no longer in the running for best… Continue reading

Warrant issued for arrest of ‘Schwimmer lookalike’ suspect

LONDON — A British judge has issued an arrest warrant for an… Continue reading

Moneywise: Canadian workers unhappy with pay, want pension plans

Many working Canadians are feeling underpaid and are so worried about their… Continue reading

Brazil police say faith healer has turned himself in

RIO DE JANEIRO — A celebrity faith healer accused of sexually abusing… Continue reading

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

VANCOUVER — Nicola Froese says she has always loved playing sports, but… Continue reading

Canada’s Kim McRae finishes seventh at luge World Cup in Lake Placid, N.Y.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Canada’s Kim McRae finished in seventh place at… Continue reading

Most Read