Honolulu International Airport was transformed into a disaster zone Wednesday morning, but it was all part of an exercise.
More than 400 volunteers took part in a triennial emergency response exercise, which simulated a full-scale plane crash.
There was even a fireball explosion to help test the response times of emergency operations.
The focus was on “health and safety, being able to attend to our passengers in a timely manner. We cannot replace lives so we need to be well-prepared for this type of event,” said Ross Higashi, Department of Transportation airports deputy director.
The exercise was conducted as a certification requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration, and tested airfield disaster preparedness and response by simulating a full-scale aircraft emergency disaster. The exercise is designed to test and evaluate the operational capacity of emergency response in a stress environment.
“The simulation will tell us where our weaknesses are and again there will be a debriefing on this and of course, this will better coordinate us for the real event, but again I hope this does not ever have to occur,” Higashi said.
Higashi said Wednesday’s exercise showed that everyone passed the test.
The multi-agency exercise, conducted from 7:30 to noon, included the City and County of Honolulu Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, American Medical Response, Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam – Federal Fire Department, U.S. Coast Guard – Honolulu Sector, FAA, state Department of Public Safety, Aloha Air Cargo and Hawaiian Airlines.
Flight operations continued as normal during the exercise.