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This letter summarizes the events of a 1982 training exercise that simulated an airplane crash at Thunder Bay International Airport. While some problems with response systems were encountered, this gave the Emergency Measures personnel the opportunity to improve their plans in the event of a "real emergency."

First page of letter describing simulated airplane crash

September 29, 1982
Mr. Tom Fell, Director
Engineering & Operations
City of Thunder Bay
Memorial Avenue


Dear Mr. Fell:


The following is a report on the simulated air crash disaster at Thunder Bay Airport on 19 September 1982.


The Area E.M.O.’s participation was an assisting agency to Transport Canada.


Contrary to the reports of the news media, the exercise was not the fiasco as they claim.


There were problems at the exercise site on the airport but some of them are expected in an artificial exercise where casualties are to be placed after the initial fire fighting was completed.


From my experience at the airport, I would have to say we had too many different radio communication systems, consequently you were never in the full picture. The control at the site could have been better. The main complaint of all observers was that there was no mobile command post where those in charge could be contacted and much time was lost trying to find someone in authority.


There was a breakdown in the initial callout. In an accieent on the airport, it is the responsibility of Transport Canada, assisted by the airline to notify the Hospitals, Doctors, Ambulance, this they failed to do, thinking this would be done by this Area E.M.O. Consequently, the hospitals were not aware of the exercise starting until the arrival of the detachment of Lakehead Amateur Radio Club personnel who had been alerted by this E.M.O.


The problems encountered will be dealt with and our plans will be amended.


Transport Canada will be preparing a full report on the exercise and a copy will be available at a later date.

Second page of a letter describing a simulated airplane crash

The main purpose of this report is to comment on the response by City of Thunder Bay personnel called out by this E.M.O.


The opportunity was taken to test our fanout system by Central Communications and the various department heads.


At 1230, I was notified by the Thunder Bay Police of the emergency and by 1255 had completed by callout and turned the E.M.O. Emergency Operating Centre over to Fire Chief J. Bryant. I then proceeded to the airport. While my place of duty would be the E.M.O. Emergency Headquarters in a disaster, for this exercise, the Airport Manager had requested I be at the airport.


I have reviewed the reports from the various departments and then telephone fanout resulted in between 50 – 60% of key personnel would have been available. In an actual disaster, radio and T.V. would have been requested to inform personnel not contacted to contact their department.


The speed in which personnel closed up in the municipal Emergency Operating Centre was gratifying and I feel any emergency would have been expeditiously handled.


In any exercise, lessons are going to be learned and I shall be holding discussion with the key personnel to determine changes required to our plans. I will also look into the requirement of having as many personnel closing up to the Municipal Operating Centre as we had on 19 September 1982.


I would like to express my appreciation to you and all personnel who participated.


I am more than satisfied with the enthusiasm amd am sure we would have put forth a credible performance in a real emergency.


Respectfully submitted,


E.A. Fallen
Emergency Planning Officer

TBA 5198-02