SPOKANE COUNTY, Wash.--Safety was a major concern as more than 100,000 people were expected to flock to Fairchild Air Force Base on the last weekend in May. Fairchild was hosting SkyFest. The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Army’s precision parachute team, The Golden Knights, were expected to make an appearance. A new emergency strategy was set in place to keep viewers safe.
Spokane County emergency crews were working with Fairchild Air Force Base for the first time in 2014 for the festival.
“There's going to be fire trucks of all shapes and sizes out there,” said Spokane County Fire District 4 Captain, Megan Hill.
In past years, the Air Force called their own fire crews or paramedics into action for the air show. A new commander brought a new game plan in 2014. Fairchild was beefing up its safety protocols by asking for outside help.
Dozens of Spokane County fire and medical teams were set to stand by with military crews on the ground. Some of the firefighters were the same men and woman you would normally see fighting wildfires. The crews trained everyday to be prepared for any situation. They practiced a variety of emergency scenarios leading up to SkyFest.
“If someone were overcome by the heat and go down…or trip and fall hurt themselves. Or have a heart attack. Any type of illness we could be there to help them,” said Hill.
Preparation for SkyFest also included the worst case scenarios.
“We haven't had rain , a significant amount of rainfall in a long time so the planes does get a little bit dryer a little bit faster so of course we could have a wild land fire out there,” said Hill.
Hill said nothing would be left to chance for her team at their first air show.