The Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) held its biennial full-scale emergency incident training exercise recently. The event, referred to internally as operation “Blue Lagoon,” brought together departments within GOAA and various federal agencies including the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Along with dozens of engaged community partners, the exercise tested the airport’s emergency preparedness during a downed craft incident. In the case of this exercise, GOAA’s Airport Rescue Fire Fighters (ARFF) emergency crews responded to a fictitious plane crash on one of Orlando International Airport’s (MCO) four runways.

Federal regulations call for airports the size of MCO to conduct full-scale training drills every three years. Orlando International however exceeds the federal standards and conducts extensive training drills every two years. The training is part of the airport’s ongoing emergency operations training, designed to test operational systems and procedures and provide hands-on education for airport staff members. Community partners included the American Red Cross, Orlando Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Office, Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, Orlando Fire Department, Osceola County Fire Department, Orange County Fire Department and the District Medical Examiner’s Office.

This year’s airline participant in the mock emergency, JetBlue, provided staffing, facilities and technical expertise to support the exercise while at the same time examining their emergency response protocols.