If you hear sirens and see fires at the Jackson Hole Airport this week, don’t panic.
The airport is conducting live fire trainings today and Wednesday as well as a “full scale exercise” Thursday. The Federal Aviation Administration requires a “full scale exercise” every three years, which involves the airport, local law enforcement, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS and Teton County Emergency Management.
The goal is to evaluate how prepared the airport is for a real accident.
While Thursday’s “full scale exercise” will look real, the casualties will be volunteer actors.
Airport spokeswoman Meg Jenkins said passersby will see “live fire” and emergency vehicles responding. The actors, who will be given roles ahead of the exercise, will be loaded up and treated like passengers. A moulage team will also gussy actors up as if they have been involved in an incident such as a plane crash.
Last go around, Jenkins said, there was even a live helicopter rescue.
“When that’s all over, we’ll go in and have a big debrief,” Jenkins said.
First responders will get an idea of the scenario beforehand — but not the specifics.
“They don’t know casualties, injuries because we want to keep it real for their response,” Jenkins said.
The airport’s firefighting team dreams up the scenario.
Today and Wednesday, the airport will use real fire in the live fire training — and extinguish it with water.
Firefighting foam, which has historically contained polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS, will not be used.
The airport used that foam in training for decades, which led the “forever chemicals” to seep into the surrounding Snake River aquifer. They have provided neighbors with filters to remove the pollutant and are now suing manufacturers of the foam, charging them with covering up the spray’s possible health impacts.