On April 10, 2019, 25 students from the Aviation & Travel Careers Department participated in the Los Angeles International Airport AirEx full-scale exercise plan. The exercise is held every three years to test the airport’s ability to respond to an accident at the Flight Path Museum, next to the airport on Imperial Highway. Students participated by acting as crew members and passengers with different injuries. Some of the students acting with fatal injuries were covered in fake blood. Participating in the event gave students the opportunity to see and experience emergency airport operations, walk onto restricted areas of the airport, get up close to commercial aircraft, and interact with first responders.
Pyrotechnics were used to start the event. First on the scene were the airport’s newly acquired Aircraft Rescue Firefighter (ARFF) rigs. This equipment has the ability to pierce the aircraft skin and spray water or foam directly into the cabin. Next on scene were Engine 51 and Rescue 51. These units are also located at the airport. Soon after, additional equipment arrived to begin triaging and treating victims. Crew members were also identified and isolated for safety, debriefing, and drug testing purposes. Responders said that passengers can sometimes become aggressive toward crew members, blaming them for the accident or injuries.
The simulated event was that an Airbus A319 declared an emergency landing, due to the smell of fuel in the cabin. After the airplane landed, it was unable to stop and went off the runway, shearing off the left landing gear. When the aircraft finally stopped, a fire erupted on the right side of the aircraft.
In total there were about 150 victim volunteers, nearly 200 first responders, and approximately 300 observers.