Rockford has a busy airport averaging about 200,000 passengers a year, according to staff who said it's a priority to keep them safe.
"We have to be trained and prepared for any type of disaster," Rockford Airport Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Brian Kunce said.
That was why they were training with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies and medical teams in case of an emergency.
"There's not enough training out there to keep everybody sharp out there so that's why we have to keep doing it all the time," Kunce said.
This weekend a simulated crash took place. Emergency crews from 35 agencies and four local counties respond in real-time. Police and firefighters worked to get volunteer victims transported to local hospitals. Meanwhile airport staff coordinated releasing crucial information, something officials said they wanted to improve going into the weekend's drill.
"We had a lot of coordination from the field to the administration office," Rockford Airport's Chief Financial Officer Michelle Cassaro said. "On the inside we were receiving information from what was happening on the scene and we then disseminate that information via press release. We monitor Social media to ensure we were responsive to any social media request for information and that we were updating social media as we needed."
Fortunately, a real crash like this has not happened at Rockford's airport, but officials said they need to be prepared. Plus this training is a federal requirement. Every three years the FAA demands all airports with passenger service carry out an emergency plan for certification. Afterwards a panel of experts review and the airport makes revisions as needed.
"It was good," Kunce said. "I just wished the weather would have held off, but you're going to have to deal with that in a real situation."
The fire chief said following Saturday's exercise that he would like to see more resources and manpower for treating and transporting people to hospitals.