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Tupelo emergency officials hold training

Reported by: Tyler Hill
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Updated: 3/01 10:36 pm
TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - The Tupelo Regional Airport hosted an emergency training seminar for the police and fire departments Saturday afternoon.

"We had bombs going off, guns, hostage and the SWAT team," said Tupelo Regional Airport Executive Director Josh Abramson. "In all of the excitement, we're going to take away a lot from this."

Every three years, the Federal Aviation Administration, FAA, requires the airport to conduct a training. This year, however, they added some extra touches.

"There's a lot more action and a lot more moving parts in this particular situation," Abramson said.

The situation: Two criminals board a plane in Greenville planning to meet three more in the Tupelo airport. When authorities find out, they counter the adversaries in the terminal.

"I think it was an outstanding opportunity for my team to see some things we haven't necessarily encountered," Tupelo Police Department Captain Rusty Haynes said.

He said those opportunities include identifying criminals on boarded planes and working with live victims.

"It helps keep us sharp and gives us more chance to do things that we haven't done before," Haynes said.

Other training phases included the bomb squad scenario, TSA screening, and a hostage situation on an airplane.

"I thought it was a learning experience for all of us to see what could possibly happen," said Itawamba Community College nursing student Page Smith.

All of the victims were volunteers from ICC, like Malcolm Stone, who was in the plane scenario.

"I thought it might be time for me to go meet the Lord," Stone joked. "I didn't know what it was going to be like. I knew it was fake, but it seemed very real."

And that's what officials were gunning for, a training that seemed as life-like as possible.

"Nothing's ever perfect," Haynes added. "After every scenario, we would debrief, point out what was wrong, what could be fixed and what was great."

Officials said the two hour training seminar took about six months to plan.

The airport will host it again in 2017.
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