Not just fun and games

While last week's emergency training may have been fun to watch, at its core it was a serious learning experience.

On the surface, Sunday’s mock disaster drill at Port Hardy Airport may have simply looked like a great chance for “boys to play with their toys”, as the saying goes.

Between the fire engines spraying foam, smoking fire pits, flashing lights, search and rescue technicians parachuting from planes and “victims” painted in mock block and groaning in mock pain, it made a wonderful spectacle.

But the purpose of the exercise was deadly serious, and there will be nothing wonderful about a real emergency that requires that type of response.

Our local first responders — from firefighters, police and ambulance attendants to the Coast Guard and Civil Air Search and Rescue — all train rigorously. Whether paid professionals or volunteers, each is prepared to perform his or her responsibilities in their particular area of expertise or need.

What Sunday’s drill accomplished — from all appearances, with great success — was to mesh these various efforts in a single, large-scale event with overlapping chains of command and multiple emergency sites.

As much fun as it may be to watch this action in a mock disaster, we all hope they won’t be called upon for the real thing.

But if they are, we will all benefit from the lessons they learned this week.