Summer travel

A commercial plane crash at Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport will be the focus of a regional emergency exercise Tuesday and Wednesday in the Killeen area. 

Fort Hood will hold its annual emergency exercise beginning Tuesday; this year, Killeen, Copperas Cove and Harker Heights are also participating.

The exercise, which kicks off at 8 a.m., will simulate how the post and local authorities would respond to a plane crash on the installation. Volunteers will play victims of the crash, while emergency personnel from Fort Hood and the surrounding cities will respond as they would in a real crisis.

“This is the first year that I’ve taken a more active role in ... planning this,” said Peter Perez, Killeen’s emergency management coordinator. “It takes a heavy workload to plan a full-scale exercise for a lot of the community partners. ... It has a lot of moving pieces and a lot of moving parts.”

Perez said the exercise will simulate what would happen if a commercial airliner crashed on its approach to the Killeen-Fort Hood Regional Airport. The main part of the exercise will take place on Fort Hood, putting the post in charge of the response to the emergency.

“We’ll be simulating how they call in assistance from Killeen, Harker Heights and other (cities),” Perez said.

The exercise involves many layers of city government. Police and fire units will be called in and directed to respond to the scenario. The airport, the pubic works department and the city’s communication office will also be heavily involved.

“The public works folks have been ... kind of the rising stars because a lot of them have already signed up to play actors that day,” Perez said. “And that’s just the city of Killeen.”

Seton Medical Center will take in and process “casualties” from the exercise to help it practice its response in the event of a real emergency. AdventHealth will also be involved in the simulation.

Bell County plans to set up its emergency operations center in Belton during the event. Scott & White hospital and McLane Children’s Medical Center in Temple will do practice exercises but won’t be taking any victims from the simulation.

More than 100 members of the public signed up to play actors in the scenario, which Perez said are more than are actually needed. He called it a good sign there is public interest in the emergency drill.

American Airlines will be involved in the exercise, as will the American Red Cross.

Perez said Killeen employees constantly train to be ready for emergencies. Because of the extensive planning the regional exercise takes, Perez said the city will only take part in an event like this every three years.

The public may see a large number of emergency vehicles gathering around the airport for the two-day exercise. City officials are reminding everyone in the area that there is no danger to the public because of the operation.

The exercise will run from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday and will begin again at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

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