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Mock “explosion” rocks Pearson: emergency protocol test

About 200 volunteers took part in a mock emergency that involved a fake explosion at Toronto's Pearson International Airport June 3.


June 4, 2017
By CBC News

The event involved police, firefighters, paramedics, border agents and airline workers.

Some of the volunteers pretended to be injured during the emergency exercise that was conducted by the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.

‘Help me!” one was heard yelling at the event. Others could be heard screaming.

Erin Kennedy, spokesperson for the GTAA, said the “full scale” exercise was a test of emergency protocols, procedures, communications and planning. It ran from 2 a.m. to 4 a.m. and the volunteers portrayed passengers as well “meeters and greeters.”

About 130 first responders from nine agencies were also involved.

Kennedy said the first responders were “doing the roles that they do everyday, if it were an emergency situation here at the airport.”

The GTAA conducts emergency exercises every year, either with safety or security as a focus, and this year it was considered a security exercise, she said.

In a news release, the GTAA said the exercise took place in a handful of locations at the airport, including in Terminal 1. There was activity in its International Arrivals area and at its International Departures gates. 

A specific area was taped off for the exercise. Part of it involved an evacuation drill. 

Kennedy said in an interview that the GTAA warned the public before the exercise that it could involve alarms, theatrical smoke, emergency personnel and vehicles. 

“We have signs all over the place. We’ve got announcements being made on our PA. It’s also quite a quiet time at the airport. We plan these for overnight so it has the least impact on our operations,” she said.

Const. Bally Saini, spokesperson for Peel Regional Police, said the exercise involved a mock explosion inside the airport terminal.

The fake blast was designed to prompt an emergency response to ensure the safety of people in the airport, she said. 

“Once this explosion happens, officers are going to be responding. And we are going to ensure that if anyone is injured, we will get them out, clear the area safely, and basically, start our investigation,” she said.

Saini said the exercise involved Peel police’s airport detachment, bomb disposal unit, criminal investigation bureau and uniformed officers.

Other agencies taking part in the exercise included Peel Regional Paramedic Services, Mississauga Fire, Transport Canada, Canadian Border Services Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Air Canada.