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Skies open as ERT storms plane in airport training exercise

Training exercises for crisis situations are seen as invaluable tools by the stakeholders involved — rain or shine

There are still some debriefing sessions to take place but in the immediate aftermath of a training exercise conducted in challenging weather conditions, the main players involved deemed the response a success.

The entire training exercise was almost called off Wednesday morning due to the stormy weather but thanks to the perseverance of Jack Garland Airport personnel and the North Bay Police Service's Emergency Response Team (ERT), several pretend airline passengers were ushered out of harm's way and a pretend person of interest was coaxed off of the aircraft parked on a runway. 

"Today’s training exercise provides invaluable benefits to the North Bay Police Service. It strengthens working relationships with our community partners and prepares our members for possible future crises," says NBPS Corporate Communications Officer David Woolley.

North Bay Fire and Emergency Services and District of Nipissing Paramedics also attended the training session and interacted with the "passengers" as they disembarked from the plane, leaving one passenger on board for ERT to deal with.

Jack Garland Airport Manager Bryan Avery says the exercise not only keeps the local airport in compliant with Transport Canada regulations but also prepares the various agencies for emergency situations.

"The scenario involves an aggravated passenger that arrived on a flight. Upon arrival, the airline asked for police to respond," explains Avery. He notes the ERT's involvement is an escalation of a typical response but a good opportunity for that team to train, as well.

Avery says it would not be uncommon for North Bay's runways to be used by diverted aircraft, whether for the unruly passenger example cited in this simulation or for other emergency situations. However, no such incidents have occurred at Jack Garland in the past few years.

"We do, by working with police, have the ability to accommodate such requests," he adds. "There is a certain point of escalation where it might go to another airport or it may require a different agency's response here in North Bay."

Avery says if the scenario practiced today played out in a real-world situation he would be the next one to receive a call after the airline initially contacted Nav Canada.

"Nav Canada would call the police," says Avery, and "we have a process to ensure that call was made in case something was missed."

Avery says yesterday's exercise is all about seeing how these crises can be managed more efficiently and effectively. Most of all, the synergies created via the training are the rewards for the agencies involved — and the community at large.

Woolley adds, "The North Bay Police Service’s Emergency Response Team regularly undertakes training exercises simulating various possible crisis scenarios to ensure our officers are well prepared to protect the safety and security of our community no matter the circumstance. We would like to thank the team at North Bay Jack Garland Airport, North Bay Fire and Emergency Services, and Nipissing District Paramedic Services for their assistance today and their continued partnership."

Stu Campaigne

About the Author: Stu Campaigne

Stu Campaigne is a full-time news reporter for, focusing on local politics and sharing our community's compelling human interest stories.
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