Simulated helicopter crash focus of emergency preparedness exercise

Sep. 21—VERNON TOWNSHIP — Firefighters from three area departments, in addition to public safety officers, airport personnel and others, will respond to a simulated helicopter crash Monday in the culmination to large-scale emergency preparedness training.

The exercise at Port Meadville Airport caps a weekend of training in responding to aircraft emergencies, according to Emergency Management Coordinator Allen Clark of the Crawford County Department of Public Safety (DPS). Having worked on implementing existing emergency plans and procedures, the exercise will allow participants to practice implementing those plans with a simulated crash involving victims trapped in a burning helicopter.

"It teaches firefighters the parts of an airplane, the hazards and the best practices to safely extinguish a fire and rescue people that might be involved," Clark said. "Then we culminate it with an exercise to see if the plan and training are effective and identify any areas we can improve upon for next time."

The last similar simulation took place in 2011, according to Clark.

Vernon Central Hose Co., Conneaut Lake Volunteer Fire Department and West Mead 1 Volunteer Fire Department will take part in the exercise along with the Department of Public Safety, Port Meadville Airport staff, and members of the U.S. Civil Air Patrol. Training will be provided by Butler County Community College.

Clark said Crawford County DPS conducts training exercises of this scope about once each year and described it as the "last step in community preparedness efforts."

Funding for the cost of the training and exercise is paid from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security through the Northwestern Pennsylvania Emergency Response Group.

Clark advised residents to avoid the airport area, which will likely be congested due to the number of exercise participants.

Mike Crowley can be reached at (814) 724-6370 or by email at