Emergency services and volunteers were out in force on Saturday afternoon to test responses to a plane crash at Whanganui Airport.

Whanganui District Council ports group manager Allan MacGibbon said about 60 people took part in an exercise based on the scenario of a plane crashing on take-off from Whanganui Airport, resulting in a large number of casualties near the end of the runway and by the river.

The exercise involved the three main emergency services - Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ), Police and St John - as well as Civil Defence Emergency Management (CDEM) and Whanganui District Health Board (DHB). Volunteers included representatives from Red Cross, Coastguard, Rural Fire and the Rapid Relief team who organised food and drinks for the participants. Scouts and Army Cadet volunteers acted as casualties.

TESTING RESPONSES: A plane crash exercise near South Beach involved multiple agencies.
TESTING RESPONSES: A plane crash exercise near South Beach involved multiple agencies.

"It is part of our airport certification requirements to hold an exercise every year," Mr MacGibbon said.

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"We're allowed to hold one real-time exercise based on a credible scenario where we can test the response system and every other year we run a table-top exercise.

"For this exercise, we lit some fires, scattered 'bodies' and then tested our response system which went extremely well. The scene control was then taken over by FENZ and the Police and the CDEM team played a major role. The DHB tested their casualty handling processes at the hospital. The whole exercise went bloody well."