MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - The Middle Georgia Regional Airport was a disaster zone Thursday morning, after a bomb went off in the terminal. But don't worry, it was part of an emergency response training exercise.
In light of the Boston marathon explosion, coordinators for this year's disaster scenario training blew up a fake bomb, but the emergency response was very real. Organizers say this will help first responders and local hospitals prepare for a real, mass casualty emergency.
Fake blood, painted on bruises, even bones sticking out of body parts—this is the scene before the explosion, as dozens of volunteers get ready for the exercise. Coordinators placed the "victims" around the fake bomb, gave the countdown, and then "detonated" it.
"All I remember was there was a big explosion and then I looked down and I had bones sticking out of my hands and everybody was on the floor," volunteer Lindsay Mears said.
Those closet to the explosive got it the worst, while many others suffered from burns and lost their hearing.
"It was very chaotic, everybody was screaming," volunteer Savonce Lawrence said. "I have burns on my arms, I have chest pains near the heart area."
"The impact hit me against a chair and it broke my arm," volunteer Erin Mathews said.
First responders arrived at the terminal and started helping the victims. The bomb squad searched all around the airport for more explosives. Then the ambulances arrived to take the volunteers to hospitals for treatment. It was real-time responses for this fake emergency.
"It gives us an opportunity for municipalities, organizations, and agencies to collaborate and work together and work on performing a seamless response to a mass casualty incident," disaster scenario training coordinator Daniel Strandburg said.
Strandburg adds it is also an opportunity to learn what they are doing right and what they can work on, like communication.
"You're going to have your gaps, you're going to have your issues, that's the whole point," he said. "There's always room for improvement."
Once the exercise ended at the airport, all the volunteers were transported to local hospitals for the second part of the training.
"We have to receive these patients, we have to be prepared to absorb these patients while maintaing normal operations," Strandburg said.
This exercise is based on a federal emergency response model. It is held every year and is a requirement for many of the agencies that participated. Evaluators took notes during the training and will write up a review to determine areas of success and where they can improve.
Dozens of local agencies participated including the Medical Center of Central Georgia and EMS, Macon Police Department (including the bomb squad and E-911 Center), City of Macon, Middle Georgia Regional Airport, Bibb County Sheriff's Office, Macon-Bibb County Fire Department, Central Georgia American Red Cross, Mid Georgia Ambulance, Coliseum Medical Centers and Coliseum North Side, Robins Air Force Base, North Central Health District, Bibb County Environmental Health Department, Houston Medical Center, Peach Regional Medical Center, Houston 911, Houston Healthcare and EMS.