The Paine Field Fire Department, ready for action!
I think many people have a child-like persona that lives inside them. I know I do. When I had the opportunity to hang out with the fine folks at the Paine Field Fire Department,Â my inner seven-year-old was not only excited, but very jealous of my mid-30sÂ self.
Yes. I am very much having a good time. – Photo: AirlineReporter
I think my initial pitch was to do a story about how the Paine Field Fire Department operates at the airport — and it was very professional-like. When they told me they would love to host me for a story, I couldn’t help but askÂ if I could turn on the lights and sirens. They told me they could arrange forÂ much more than that.Â I was down!
Full-scale disaster drill at Kansas City International, in full swing – Photo: JL Johnson | AirlineReporter
Practice makes perfect. And in the realm of aviation safety drills, it also creates incredible experiences for willing volunteers. Kansas City International Airport (MCI, or KCI as it’s referred to by the locals) recentlyÂ hosted their triennial emergency exercise, and I was fortunateÂ enough to score a role as a victim. I was told this was a full-scale drill from the beginning, but wasn’t sure exactly what to expect.
The closest I’ve ever been to anything remotely resemblingÂ an emergency was on my very first Airbus A320 flight just a few years ago from MinneapolisÂ (MSP)Â to Pittsburgh (PIT). It was late, and after a typical approach the engines roared and we were on steep climb. UponÂ leveling off, the Delta captain came on to tell us we had brieflyÂ “lost steering.” After a missed approach and a fly-by, we landed uneventfully, were greeted by an ARFF (aircraft rescue and firefighting) escort, and towed to the gate. This experience, plus participating in some rudimentary safety training with Delta during last year’s #InsideDelta event, formed the foundation for my expectations.
I would soon learn I had no idea how disasters really play out, especially on the groundâ€¦