A full-scale emergency exercise held May 6, 2017, at Trenton-Mercer Airport that included more than two dozen agencies and more than 200 volunteers has left Mercer County better prepared for a real emergency.

“Every agency at every level, from the local fire department to the FBI, has to be on the same page should a major disaster occur in Mercer County,” said County Executive Brian M. Hughes. “That requires taking a regional approach to preparedness, coordination and response, which is what we did for this airport drill. Lessons learned from this exercise will be used to improve our Emergency Plan, and increase the effectiveness of our emergency response in the event of an actual airport emergency.”

A full-scale exercise is mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration to be held once every three years to measure the level of preparedness of first responders and to allow the agencies that will respond to a true emergency to train together in a single venue.

Representatives of various agencies and offices participated in the handling of the May 6th “incident,” which for the purpose of this exercise was the simulation of a commercial aircraft crash due to total hydraulic failure coupled with low-level wind shear just before touchdown. Rick Bus Co. provided four school buses that represented the split fuselage of the aircraft – a “Blue Sky Airline” Airbus A320 NEO carrying 186 passengers and six crew members. Fire and rescue units immediately reported to the scene and worked to extricate “victims” — played with enthusiasm by members of the New Jersey Civil Air Patrol and Naval Sea Cadet Corps — and extinguish the “fire.” Passengers were “triaged” and “treated,” and were “transported to area hospitals” by Emergency Medical Services units.

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In accordance with the Airport Emergency Plan, agencies such as the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration, the FBI, the New Jersey Division of Aeronautics, the County Office of Emergency Management and County Emergency Communications were contacted and their designated representatives were requested to report to Trenton-Mercer. A command post, a joint information center and an emergency operations center were established to direct the response. The entire scenario, which unfolded over two hours, was staged at the New Jersey National Guard hangar off Scotch Road in Ewing.

Airport staff and other participants in the exercise will now evaluate the response and use information gained to improve or revise, if necessary, the Airport Emergency Plan and emergency procedures.

Numerous agencies participated in the full-scale emergency exercise, including in the planning, organizing, advising, and operational stages. They, including others, are as follows:

  • Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes
  • Mercer County Office of Communications
  • Mercer County DOT&I
  • Mercer County Office of Emergency Management
  • Mercer County Emergency Services Communications Center
  • Mercer County Division of Highways
  • Mercer County Park Commission
  • Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office
  • Mercer County Sheriff’s Office
  • Trenton-Mercer Airport (TTN) Administration
  • TTN Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting-Station 34
  • Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
  • Midwest Air Traffic Control Services
  • US Transportation Security Administration (TSA)
  • Frontier Airlines
  • New Jersey Army National Guard
  • New Jersey Division of Aeronautics
  • New Jersey State Police
  • NJ Task Force One
  • Multiple Wings of the NJ Civil Air Patrol
  • US Naval Sea Cadet Corps – John T. Dempster Jr. Division
  • American Red Cross – Central Jersey Chapter
  • Capital Health System Emergency Medical Services
  • Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
  • Medical Reserve Corps
  • Ewing Township Emergency Medical Services
  • Ewing Township Office of Emergency Management
  • Hopewell Township Fire District No. 1
  • Manville Rescue Squad
  • Montgomery Emergency Medical Services
  • Pennington Road First Aid Squad
  • Pennington Road Fire Company-Station 32
  • Prospect Heights Fire Company-Station 31
  • River Road Rescue Squad
  • Signal 22
  • Trenton Emergency Services TEMS 74
  • Union-Titusville Fire Company-Station 53
  • Upper Makefield Fire Company 71
  • Watchung Rescue Squad
  • West Trenton Fire Company-Station 33