Airport drill: Hartsfield-Jackson conducts emergency response simulation

The fake aviation disaster known as ‘Big Bird’ allows responders to practice victim triage

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport on Wednesday held a major emergency response simulation that’s aimed at preparing for an aviation disaster.

The exercise, known as “Big Bird,” is mandated every three years by the Federal Aviation Administration to review and improve the airport’s ability to respond to large emergencies.

This year’s drill held at the airport’s fire training center was designed to simulate an aircraft fire. It tests the triage abilities of emergency responders from the Atlanta Fire Rescue Department, Atlanta Police Department and others.


Volunteers pose as victims in the simulated disaster, wearing makeup that appears to be injuries.

Because the exercise uses real equipment and personnel, it gives “invaluable experience” to the first responders involved, according to the airport.