DIA Operations experts say lessons will be learned from Asiana crash at San Francisco airport

DFD: No matter the emergency, there will be chaos

DENVER - Operations managers at Denver International Airport say there will be lessons learned from the crash of an Asiana Airlines jetliner at San Francisco’s airport.

They say it may take several months before investigators iron out all the details, but once they do, the information will be shared with other airports around the country.

Reports out of San Francisco indicate that one of the passengers killed may have been run over by a fire truck or another emergency vehicle responding to the crash.

DIA officials are reluctant to talk specifically about that report, but say that in time there will be more clarity about what happened.

Ken Greene, deputy operations manager at DIA, told 7NEWS that the people who run major airports around the country are part of a very close, tight-knit community.

"We share information with each other all the time," Greene said, "whether it's in a conference or a workshop. So it's not unusual for us to have a conversation across the industry about best practices associated with anything that anyone of us will experience."

Randy Stewart, Denver Fire Department’s training chief at DIA, said chaos is a given no matter what the emergency is.

"You have a lot of people trying to escape the scene. You have emergency responders converging on the scene.  In the case of an aircraft wreck, you have debris scattered about, so typically a lot of chaos is involved…So it’s very difficult to take that all in," Stewart said.

Preliminary reports indicate that the tail section of the Asiana aircraft hit the seawall at SFO.

When asked if pilots landing at DIA face any challenges, Steve Lee, the director of Operations Support said, "Every airport has unique challenges."

One of Denver’s is the weather.

High winds were a factor in the crash of Continental flight 1404, which veered off the runway during takeoff in December of 2008.

Last month, flights were delayed and passengers were herded into the basement when a tornado touched down near the terminal.  

In the Continental crash, there was an initial delay getting fire crews to the scene because preliminary information about where the aircraft had veered off the runway was incorrect.

There was also a delay getting paramedics to the scene because no ambulances were stationed at DIA.

Airport officials said it was a learning experience.

On Monday, officials told 7NEWS that both the Federal Aviation Administration and the Transportation Security Administration require that airports have a plan to handle a variety of emergencies.

"We plan not just for certain events." Lee said, "but for categories of events. Then we train on those. We try to improve the plan, make fixes and improvements where we can… It’s just a continuous cycle."

Greene said that in the event of an emergency, an Incident Commander will set up in the Emergency Operations Center at DIA.

He said there will be representatives from all the departments involved in the response, including the fire department, which has 96 firefighters stationed at four firehouses on airport property along with the police department, which as 117 people on staff at DIA, operations support and air-side operations.

"It"s a team operation," said Denver Police Captain John Lamb.