It was just like any other fixed wing aircraft coming in for a landing at the Richfield Regional Airport Saturday morning.
Except this plane was marked with the colors of the Civil Air Patrol, and it was on a mission.
It was an exercise to see how well different agencies could work together. In this case it was the CAP and Intermountain Health Care. “We could be wheels up, and wheels down in 45 minutes,” said Gary Thietten, CAP member.
The mission was to go through the motions of delivering medical supplies from Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George to Sevier Valley Hospital in Richfield.
The flight crew carried a parcel, which could be anything in an actual emergency — drugs, supplies, blood or even an organ.
The scenario the group was working around was assuming an earthquake hit the region, knocking out all roads into the Sevier Valley. Assuming the same earthquake also likely caused multiple injuries, how would the hospital get the supplies it needed if it ran out of something?
The answer was by using an airplane from the CAP, Thietten said.
“I’ve had 280 liters of blood onboard,” Thietten said. He said running through the scenario helps pilots and crew know what to expect.
“The people on the ground are just as important as those in the air,” Thietten said. He said the local CAP organization would play a role in dealing with a disaster.
On the way back, the CAP crew, which included the pilot, an observer and a scanner, fulfilled a secondary mission of flying by bridges and doing a damage assessment, said Mike Starke, another CAP member.
The package was handed off to Jesse Lewis, who works at Sevier Valley Hospital. Upon opening it, the box had a couple of blocks of wood with the words “medical supplies” written on them.
However, it wasn’t the content of the box that was important to the exercise as much as the connections it helped to establish, Lewis said.
“Now you know me, and I know you,” Lewis said. He said the goal of building interagency cooperation is one of the primary goals of exercises like the one that was conducted Saturday.
“I was really excited when I found out we were doing this,” Lewis said. He said massive emergencies could come in many forms.
“There is a lot of worry right now about the Coronavirus, and people are worried it may become a pandemic,” Lewis said.
The Sevier Valley CAP program currently has an active cadet program, with 20 participants, said Capt. TeriLee Hammond.