SAN DIEGO -- It's a scene no one wants to ever see. Just minutes after an airplane takes off at Lindbergh Field, it's forced to crash land in the water. It’s only a drill, but everything about this mass rescue exercise sounds and looks real.
"It's scary but that's exactly why we're here,” said Debra Mcquillen of Scripps Mercy Hospital. Her staff practiced how they'd move patients through a mobile care site, stabilize them and then move them on to the closest hospital.
It's scary but that's exactly why we're here. So when it happens, we're ready and it's not so scary of a situation,” added Mcquillen.
The airliner in this exercise stayed afloat after the crash. But all its passengers were forced to jump into the water.
The first priority was to rescue victims who couldn’t swim. Then rescue the most seriously injured and rush them onto shore, where first responders turned a lawn in front of San Diego Lifeguard Headquarters into a triage.
"In a situation like this where you have more than 100 simulated victims in this case, there's no single agency in the entire county that could handle all of that by themselves,” said San Diego Lifeguards Chief Rick Wurts.
It’s a lesson even for the volunteer victims, most of them lifeguards.
"Oh it could happen any time, any day,” said Dylan Marston, a North Island lifeguard.
More than 300 participants - victims and first responders both from local, state and federal agencies – were involved in this mass rescue exercise.