Emergency Crews Put to the Test at Small Maryland Airport

A mock disaster exercise at the Carroll County Regional Airport in Westminster, Md., won high marks for efficient and effective responses to multiple perilous incidents. But the drill made apparent communication gaps among the county's police, fire and...

"The exercise was not perfect," Long said. "Its purpose was to identify shortcomings. There was a definite lack of communication between law enforcement and firefighters at the scene. Fortunately, we identified that in an exercise instead of a real live event."

Long did not attribute communication gaps to technology but called it a person-to-person problem within the various responding agencies.

"The federal government is promoting integrated command systems," Long said. "We didn't accomplish that. We have now identified where we lack communication, and we will work to make that right."

The county Emergency Operations Center, which is awaiting after-action reports from all the participants, will take several months to compile the information and prepare reviews for federal and state agencies.

The reports will help the operations center staff to recommend any necessary improvements, said Bill Hall, emergency management planner, who helped coordinate the drill.

"We want to review all the information to make sure everything went right and that all the resources we need are there," said Hall.

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