April 07, 2005

IUC department will test emergency response plans

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- A simulated fuel fire sometime next week that involves the Boeing 737 used by Southern Illinois University Carbondale's aviation technologies program will test response time and the emergency preparedness.

Under the scenario, the fire will occur while the plane is being fueled for maintenance training operations, forcing evacuation of the aviation training facility buildings located at Southern Illinois Airport near Murphysboro, said Dennis R. Hannon, an assistant instructor in the aviation technologies program.

The drill involves the Department of Aviation Management and Flight and the Department of Aviation Technologies. The exercise will involve a few hundred people between faculty, staff and students.

The exercise will test emergency notification systems in both departments, the response of Building Emergency Response Team coordinators, and the ability of faculty, staff and students to rapidly respond to an evacuation emergency.

The exercise will not use actual fueling operations or affect ongoing airport operations, Hannon said. Carbondale Fire Department personnel will also be present to observe but no emergency vehicles will be involved.

The exercise is important, said John D. Cotter, assistant professor and interim chair of the aviation technologies department. He noted that there is always the possibility for industrial accidents where complex machinery and fuel is involved.

"I would like to find out if there are any weaknesses in our current emergency plan," he said. "If so, we can revise our plan to prevent any injury, and minimize loss to our equipment and facility."

For more information, contact Hannon at 618/536-3371.