Rescue forces were rushed to the “Sde Dov” Airport to deal with a mass casualty incident. This was a part of an aerial emergency exercise designed to simulate a collision between two aircraft on the runway
Vered Talala | Translation: Ohad Zeltzer Zubida
The landings and takeoffs in the “Sde Dov” Airbase were shut down for a number of hours yesterday due to the stormy weather, which lead to the flooding of the base. The operational squadrons of the airbase are prepared for these situations at all time. “Our routine changes drastically when extreme weather hits”, says Major Liran, Deputy Commander of the “Aerial Kings” Squadron. “When extreme weather like this hits, we begin a flight procedure unique to the situation, in which the technical division takes part. We minimize and postpone flight operations as much as possible in order to avoid unnecessary endangering of the aircrew members. Simultaneously, we have an entire aircrew in the air during the storm which has the ability to cope with the harsh conditions due to winter systems that are installed in their aircraft”.
Maintaining a Secure Division
An IAF transport aircraft and a civil aircraft crashed on the run way in “Sde Dov” airport in Tel-Aviv; three IAF rescue helicopters evacuated dozens of wounded from the scene, some of them severely injured. This is not a real accident of course, but an extreme scenario practiced in the “Sde Dov” Airbase in which IAF, Israeli Police, Magen David Adom, and Fire Fighter emergency, search, rescue and evacuation forces took part.
The drill was executed with the aim of facing the ICAO standard (International Civil Aviation Organization) and the demand of the IAF Commander to have a professional security division in every airport in the country. “The goal is to test how we would cope with a malfunctioning plane in takeoff or landing, a malfunction that could escalate to a plane crash, which would be a national danger”, said Lt. Col David, the leader of the exercise and the Commander of the airbase’s flight squadron.
“This drill is of upmost importance to us”, adds Moshe Talmor, the manager of the civil airport on site. “It is clear to us that in an emergency situation we must act automatically and quickly because we are dealing with human lives. In case of an emergency we will have to rescue the passengers as fast as possible because as time passes the risk increases and loss of consciousness also becomes a risk, which is why this scenario is very important to practice. Gladly, we have met our standards”.
The mutual drill takes place once a year on the runway shared by IAF planes from the “Sde Dov” Airbase and civil planes from the adjacent civil airport. “We share the runways with the civil airport. In past years, civil aircraft’s activity has skyrocketed, as they fly from “Sde Dov” to Eilat and other destinations daily. Each civil plane holds about 70 passengers and any small malfunction can cause significant damage and many casualties. This is why, during the drill, we simulate the arrival of all of the forces that would arrive in the case of an actual catastrophe”.
“Real life will present us with greater dilemmas”
The drill presented the evacuation forces with a great challenge, more complicated and extreme than any past drill. The rescue forces were required to arrive at the scene quickly in order to save as many passengers trapped in the burning planes as possible. “During the drill, the forces faced dilemmas such as: which passengers needed urgent assistance and who needs immediate helicopter evacuation”, explained Lt. Col David. “Real life will present us with greater dilemmas”.