SPOKANE, Wash. - Elaine Fox celebrated her first year working for the Spokane International Airport by being covered in fake blood. 

Yes, you read that right. 

Wednesday marked the tri-annual Emergency Response Plan Drill at the airport, where the airport’s aircraft rescue team, the fire department, and other first responders come together to train for the possibility of a real disaster, by training “volunteer victims,” in a fake scenario.  

Fox jumped at the opportunity to be a volunteer when she heard the community needed help, and when she knew an extensive makeup process would be involved.  

“I started at six this morning,” Fox said. 

The day began early when the volunteers came together to be turned into wounded victims, as professional makeup stylists covered them in prosthetics and fake blood.  

“I just had my year anniversary at the airport and first-time volunteering, so yeah, I’ll make this an event every three years,” Fox said.  

The team at the airport practices smaller emergency drills throughout the year, like any institution does, but the Federal Aviation Administration requires the Spokane International Airport to conduct this full-scale drill every three years. With this, first responders can really hone in on their emergency response skills, because they get to deal with volunteer victims who are given a fake scenario to act out. 

For Fox, she was nursing a head injury, and needed to act out her best confused and disruptive crash victim.  

“They wanted it to really be real. I mean if you were hurt, they wanted you to be crying, or screaming, or upset,” Fox said. “I was walking around talking to people, I was disruptive, they took me to the top of the stairs and I turned around and went back in, and so yes, I had a lot of fun with it.” 

Todd Woodard is the director of marketing and public affairs at the Spokane International Airport, and says he looks forward to this training every three years because it makes a world of difference for each response team.  

“It’s like practicing for a sporting event, or practicing for an exam,” Woodard said. “We’re practicing for our worst-case scenario." 

And even though this practice is a little more, well, graphic than practicing basketball, it still is incredibly important, and effective.  

“It’s really training for them, and it’s not something to be taken lightly,” Fox said.  

The first responders are looking for those visual cues to tell them how someone is wounded, so they can proceed with the right type of care. This prepares them for the real deal, especially if that very realistic makeup is involved.  

“I knew that they were going to have them but I hadn’t seen it, it was very disconcerting at first,” Woodard said. 

And Fox looks forward to the years ahead.  

“It’s been a great first year,” Fox said.  

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