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Mock plane disaster explosion at SRQ keeps crews trained and ready

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SARASOTA, Fla. - A disaster drill at the Sarasota-Bradenton International Airport on Monday simulated a big explosion on a plane as it was making it's way to the runway for takeoff.  It's an exercise that felt and looked very real for those who participated and for those who watched.

"This is about as close as you can get to the real deal," said John Lucht, a Station Manager for United Airlines Tampa.  "Everybody did very well, worked as a team and that's important."

About 200 people took part in this drill including volunteers who were pretending to be crash victims, as well as the airport staff and emergency crews from Sarasota and Manatee Counties who were responding to this mock plane disaster.

"It's very important for us, especially when we're a smaller airport and we limited staff on duty mostly for fire department and law enforcement," said Lionel Guilbert, an Operations Manager for SRQ.  "We rely extensively on outside agencies like the county department, the fire department and EMS as well as law enforcement."

Steve Tanzella is General Manager of United Airlines in Fort Myers.  He says it's important for airports to be ready for anything at anytime.

"It's good to get a perspective what another city does to take back to your airport and get some good ideas that we can share with our teams back at our stations," said Tanzella.

Airport officials say that the Federal Aviation Administration requires drills like this every three years.