You may have noticed smoke and flashing lights at the Greater Rochester International Airport Saturday but it wasn't a real disaster, but instead a drill. Hundreds of volunteers and first responders helped the airport test its emergency plan during a staged plane crash.
"We had some wreckage on the field with fire, we had casualties on the field and they're being triaged," Director of Aviation Mike Giardino said.
The FAA requires all airports to conduct similar emergency drills every three years. The one on Saturday, lasted about eight hours, including time for preparation.
Buses represented pieces of a crashed plane, one was even set on fire to make the scene as realistic as possible.
"I heard a pop and I thought it was going to explode, but it didn't," said Musa Mansur one of the volunteer actors helping with the drill.
Airport personnel are monitoring the scene inside the new Airport Emergency Operations Center. They're coordinating local police, firefighters, paramedics and hospital workers helping with the drill.
There were more than one hundred volunteer actors helping with the drill. They were made up to look like they had real injuries. Each volunteer also had an evaluation card on them to help first responders choose who to help first.
Injured passengers like Mansur were scattered on the tarmac or trapped in their seats. They were all confined to one spot until rescued.
Evaluators were judging how well airport personnel and first responders reacted to the scene. Already the airport knows where it needs to improve.
"There's a lot of issues that we're trying to wed our way through including patient tracking," Airport Fire Chief Todd Baine said.
"With a disaster or something of this magnitude, communication is something we can work on," Giardino said. "So we're going to see where we can do better and make those changes and go from there."
Changes to make them better prepared for a real emergency.