Officials: Protocol, Communication Key in Emergency Plane Landing Response

Aug 15, 2016

Rapid City emergency officials say they learned important lessons after a commercial air liner made an unexpected landing at Regional Airport last week.

The incident flooded extra patients into the ER in the middle of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, a time when resources are already spread thin.

Despite the chaos, officials say following protocol and communication helped the situation end successfully.

More than 20 passengers were treated at Rapid City Regional Hospital for injuries after a JetBlue airliner made an emergency landing August 12 due to severe turbulence.
Credit Charles Michael Ray / SDPB

Jim Bussell  is with the Rapid City Fire Department. He says crews learned two things after the incident.

“Yeah the system does work and that you need to believe in the system and trust in the system and trust in the pieces and parts that are assembled around you another big take away is we learned about information, and the flow of information and particularly when you have an incident involving an airline those are a lot of times going to be high profile incidents,” says Bussell

Bussell says a blog website, where people can access fire department news as it happens, is one possibility that could improve information availability.

Rapid City Regional Hospital treated over 20 people injured from aircraft turbulence.  Tasha Frisinger is head of emergency management at Regional Hospital as well as an RN. She says communication from RCFD allowed the hospital to plan ahead.

“I mean essentially when the bus rolled up with our potential patients we had enough staff for every person who was on that bus just ready to go and it went seamless because we had that early notification,” says Frisinger.

Emily Baertsch is an RN that worked the night of the emergency landing. She says at first she couldn’t believe the call that they had so many patients coming in.
“Actually when all things considered, because I thought it was a joke initially, like some sort of disaster drill we were going to be doing that someone was just testing us on but the fact that it was a legitimate crisis and everyone came together and pulled together was really great and I’m glad it was a successful end point,” says Baertsch.

Frisinger adds that Regional officials will look to the success of the emergency plane landing response when planning for future disaster events.