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Hundreds participate in mock plane crash training exercise in Comox Valley

Hundreds of first responders and military personnel worked together on an exercise for a scenario they hope they will never face in real life. 

Numerous agencies cooperated on the mock disaster at Airforce Beach near 19 Wing Comox on Wednesday, called Operation Totem Platinum.

The training exercise simulated an airplane crash with several victims.

The Operation Totem Platinum training exercise is shown. May 17, 2023. (CTV News)"[There are] multiple agencies in the Comox Valley area, but very seldom do we work together, so this exercise is about us learning how to work together in case of a real emergency," said training coordinator captain Eric Germain.

Germain says planning for the event began in September of last year and involved more than 500 people.

"We’re looking at about 20 to 25 civilian agencies, roughly 150 to 200 civilians, and probably another 10 to 15 military agencies and roughly 300 military members," he said.

Along with smoke simulating fire scenes, several "casualty actors" were also used for realism, spread throughout the extensive wreckage area.

One of those portraying a crash survivor was Jennifer Joseph, who works at 19 Wing as an engine technician.

"It’s my first time actually doing this so I’m pretty excited to see how it goes, just act and go have fun with it," she said.

"I’m actually working later today, something fun to do in the morning and then go back to work and talk about it," Joseph said.

The Operation Totem Platinum training exercise is shown. May 17, 2023. (CTV News)Daniel Dielissen is also posing as a victim, complete with extensive makeup.

"We were talking Monday night and [Germain] was like, 'I’ll give you the gnarliest one,' and I was like, 'Yes, sign me up," he said.

The Operation Totem Platinum training exercise is shown. May 17, 2023. (CTV News)The joint exercise was closed to the public and was surrounded by security, not to keep the public out but to maintain an area around the scene as they would do with an actual crash.

Fire departments from Courtenay and Comox, along with marine search and rescue teams, also took part.

The Operation Totem Platinum training exercise is shown. May 17, 2023. (CTV News)Several Emergency Health Services ambulances were also on scene with crews transporting the "victims" to the hospital in Courtenay. Top Stories


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