SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — The NTSB has placed the blame for the deadly 2013 Asiana crash at San Francisco International Airport, but it also had important safety recommendations for SFO’s emergency responders.
The airport showed just how much better prepared they are for a major emergency Tuesday.READ MORE: 16-Year-Old Girl Dead, Woman Wounded in Friday-Evening Shooting in San Francisco
“We are continually enhancing our capabilities,” Doug Yakel, SFO Public Information Officer said.
They have a new safety protocol to avoid repeating one of the most horrific accidents after the crash, when two San Francisco fire trucks ran over a teenage passenger who was thrown from the plane.
“Our approach now is to mark the deceased. Then, put personnel by the individual to make sure they’re protected and guarded,” Assistant Deputy Chief Rudy Castellanos said.
SFO’s fire division also has new emergency response equipment. It paid more than $1 million for two mass casualty units that just arrived. Before, the medical command center worked out of a cramped car.
Now they have a lot more room to coordinate patients’ medical treatment.
Fire crews plan to fill the units with equipment, like enough backboards to handle 500 patients.
In addition, the airport now practices disaster drills with a new training plane.READ MORE: Belmont Police Search for Missing Woman and Her 3-Year-Old Son
“It gives our emergency teams the chance to drill in a very realistic manner,” Castellanos said.
Refueling the striker’s 4,500 gallon water tank could soon be faster as well, meaning no more returning to the fire station to fill up.
“We are currently in the process of putting a new plumbing system out by the runways, an underground hydrant system which will allow us to refill our tanks right there on the airfield,” Castellanos said.
SFO also bought a new mobile command post a year ago.
So far, it’s been used in training exercises, but in a real disaster, officials say they could do more than coordinate emergency crews on the airfield. They could also dispatch emergency responders anywhere at the airport.
“This is state of the art,” Fire Captain Justin Schorr said.
Fire crews say they are still working on other safety measures the NTSB recommended, like tracking where all of the emergency responders are, and buying new radios to get different responding agencies on the same frequency.MORE NEWS: Grass Fire That Burned 15 Acres on Altamont Pass Slows Traffic for Hours
“In terms of equipment, we are better prepared. In terms of communications we are better prepared,” Schorr said.