Ketchikan’s airport officials say don’t be alarmed by the sight of flashing lights, ambulances and fire crews at the Ketchikan International Airport on Saturday.

The airport’s security supervisor Mark Sivertsen says it’s only a drill.

“So every three years we have to do a live emergency exercise drill that involves a simulated airplane crash with all the first responders, pretty much, in Ketchikan coming over.”

In past years, locals have volunteered to be victims, complete with moulage makeup and tagged with cards detailing their injuries. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sivertsen says mannequins and cardboard cutouts will be used.

He says emergency responders will remain in their work units and will wear masks and other protective equipment where appropriate.

“We’re still trying to keep as much distancing as we can. We’re not going to intermix, like my personnel with, say, city fire personnel that are going to come over. We’re going to try to keep as much of it separate as we can but still get good education out of this training.”

Sivertsen says every year a drill is held, something new is discovered that can help in responding to a real emergency.

“From the airport side, we learn different stuff from the responders that come over. Because there’s some little things that we’re not seeing they’re doing hands on – like the medical and the transportation and the ferry.”

Sivertsen says one of the exercises involves extinguishing a fire, but because of where it will be located, it’s unlikely that residents will see flames or smoke.

The simulation is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday morning and will conclude by around lunchtime. Sivertsen says if the COVID risk level increases or an actual emergency happens, the exercise may be postponed.