Dead passengers, a COVID-19 patient and an airplane crashing during takeoff.
These were just some of the hazards paramedics were confronted with during a single day at Bankstown Airport last month.
Luckily, all of those hazards weren’t real, instead part of a simulation that nine Bankstown Superstation paramedics took part in.
Every two years the airport runs the simulation training exercise as part of an accreditation requirement. Inspector Craig Watkins, of the South West Sydney Sector, said the airport intended to make this year’s simulation – which also included police and firefighters – more sophisticated than it had ever been before.
He said it didn’t disappoint. “During the process we discovered one of the patients (an actor) was (pretending to be) COVID-19 positive, so that added a new dimension to the whole scenario,” Insp Watkins said.
“It wasn’t actually part of the original simulation, the actor put a spin on it and ‘threw a curveball’.
“It was good because the ambulance crews just had to adapt and treat all of the patients as if they were suspected of having COVID-19 as well.”
Of the 11 patients – all played by actors – two passengers were killed, while the rest had varying degrees of injuries.
The one patient who wasn’t on the plane - a man using a ride-on lawn mower - wasn’t easily recognisable, given he was struck by shrapnel some distance from the crash.
Despite this, the paramedics were able to identify and treat the man, which was among the many reasons Insp Watkins was impressed by how well the participants handled the situation.
“It was top-notch,” Insp Watkins said.
“Obviously there were learnings that were taken away from the day that we can use to improve on for next time, but I couldn’t be happier with the outcome and the performances on the day.”
He said the simulation was also a great opportunity to network and practise with other emergency services for future, real-life major incidents.