Illawarra crews test emergency response

Emergency personnel during a drill at Albion Park airport that tested inter-agency co-ordination.

Emergency personnel during a drill at Albion Park airport that tested inter-agency co-ordination.

The region's emergency services were put through their paces on Thursday, running through a critical incident simulation at Albion Park airport.

Dozens of Fire and Rescue, police, ambulance, and Rural Fire Service units converged on the runway, with wailing sirens and flashing lights no doubt surprising nearby residents. Crews were presented with a scenario of a pilot injured after being forced to make an emergency landing.

"We run through drills at least once a year, to test the co-ordination between agencies," said Matt Youell, director of the Shellharbour Enterprise, the Shellharbour Council division with oversight of the airport.

"There is a huge amount of co-operation needed and this tests each agency's ability to react."

Mr Youell said the test incident was the most common situation airports faced. During the exercise, police secured the site while rescue and ambulance crews tended to the pilot.

The emergency presence was reminiscent of the huge response during the search and seizure of a plane at the airport by federal police in July. Mr Youell said response to that incident had been "spot on" in regards to policy and procedure.

"We reviewed it, that was standard protocol," he said.

Lake Illawarra police acting superintendent, Inspector Andrew Koutsoufis, said the exercise tested co-operation between services.

"It is very difficult to co-ordinate, so we test our communication and our weaknesses," he said.

"When it is the real thing, we want to be prepared."

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