A bus full of "injured" passengers has been used to represent a crashed aircraft, during a scheduled emergency exercise at Rotorua Airport.

Rotorua Airport fire and operations manager John Harrison said it was a good opportunity for the airport team and other emergency service personnel because they did not usually mingle much.

"It's an opportunity to work together with a single objective, and support each other and utilise each other's strengths."

The exercise took place at 2.30pm yesterday, with an alarm activated and an emergency response.


Mr Harrison said the exercise involved a bus full of volunteers which went out to the end of the runway, and all volunteers were given medical conditions by St John.

The bus simulated an aircraft that had crashed due to difficulties at take-off, with one of the wings detached and a fire having started, he said.

Mr Harrison said volunteers were "from all over the place", including volunteer firefighters, John Paul College students and teachers and people from the Rotorua Lakes Council who had an interest in emergency management.

He said it went well, though there were always points to take away and improve.

"They all turned out, did what they needed to do and co-ordinated well with each other."

Mr Harrison said the airport fire service was first to respond to aid in self-evacuation.

The New Zealand Fire Service went into the aircraft to rescue those who could not
evacuate themselves and St John triaged all the people, referring them to suitable medical treatment or the temporary welfare centre, he said.

The police secured the airport to keep people away who shouldn't be there.

Mr Harrison said when the site had been declared safe police had overarching responsibility.

The emergency exercise was part of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) requirements and an exercise was to take place every two years, he said.