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McCarran officials constantly prepare for 'worst case' scenario

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Updated: 7/10/2013 3:39 pm
LAS VEGAS (KSNV & MyNews3) -- Las Vegas emergency responders say they were watching as this weekend's disaster unfolded in San Francisco.

News 3's Marissa Mike spoke with a training officer to find out if McCarran Airport is ready to respond in the event of a plane crash.

McCarran officials say Las Vegas has been very fortunate, given the hundreds of planes that fly in and out of the airport each day, that we have not had a major crash like the one in San Francisco. Despite that, emergency responders say they are ready.

“MCarran is more than ready. We proved that in our tri-annual drill,” said Airport training officer Bill Hutfilz. “Prevention is the key.”

Hutfilz says it's the drills required by the FAA that help keep our local emergency responders on their feet and ready to go when emergency strikes.

Real-life training drills supplement federally-required exercises that prepare firefighters for the 'just in case' scenarios. Crash landings, like the one in San Francisco are rare but as seen this weekend they're possible, even at McCarran.

“Nobody wants it to happen but everybody prepares for the worst ,” Hutfilz said.

There are 33 firefighters assigned to the airport's fire station located in the center of the airfield. They regularly test out their equipment. Hutfilz says there's ample resources for a worst-case crash.

Response times are also checked because every second matters during disaster.

“They're mandated to get to the scene in 3 minutes or less,” Hutfilz said. “We want to get something on the ground to cover the fuel up. With this temp and the vapors it would take one spark and that's all it would take.”

As emergency responders work tirelessly to make sure they're prepared, they're also taking notes from airport emergencies throughout the country and world.

“Every accident is a learning experience,” Hutfilz said.

It will take months for the feds to release the official report of this weekend's San Francisco International Airport crash. Officials say there will be pieces of valuable information within it that will help emergency responders handle a similar catastrophe in the future
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