Country Fire Authority volunteers recently joined other emergency service personnel from the Northern Grampians area for an airbase familiarisation tour and simulated plane crash exercise.
Great Western, Stawell and Halls Gap brigade members, Victoria Police, DELWP, VICSES and Ambulance Victoria personnel joined Northern Grampians Shire Council representatives at the Stawell airbase.
Stawell brigade member Zach Portelli, who also works at the airbase full-time, originally planned to a hold simple walkthrough with fellow brigade members.
"When I was speaking to others from the brigade, I learned some of them hadn't been to the airport in over 10 years," he said.
"The airport has changed dramatically in that time. Even simple things like new access gates, so it's changed quite a lot."
Mr Portelli's walkthrough idea quickly evolved into a full airbase tour and simulated incident, designed to test and review response and coordination procedures.
He said throughout the fire season, the airbase can go from not much activity at all, to aircraft landing and taking off every 15 minutes.
"During a reasonable sized incident, additional fire related aircraft can also be relocated by the state air desk, which can see up to ten fire related aircraft operating from the airbase at any time," he said.
"In addition to this, Incident Management Team personnel often require charter aircraft at the same airbase.
"When the airbase gets busy, not only with fire related aircraft, but with normal air traffic and training aircraft as well, it makes the airport quite busy."
CFA commander Tony Miles said the exercise gave all agencies involved valuable lessons and experience working together in an emergency with several complexities.
"The simulated incident involved a plane that had come off the runway, which was leaking an unknown pesticide, with the pilot trapped in the cockpit," he said.
"The exercise was an excellent opportunity for first responders to work together to combat the incident, as well as Incident Management Team personnel holding regular briefings to discuss strategies."
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