FAA First Responder Training

Over the past several years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been putting together an online course for the first responder community and recently, the course was rolled out.


As first responders, part of the excitement of our jobs comes from the fact that we never know what the day will bring. Fortunately our days are usually routine and fairly predictable. However, there are always those unforgettable days punctuated by the completely different assignment. These assignments always challenge us because of their unfamiliarity, their sheer magnitude or the danger posed by such an event. Aircraft accidents usually fit into this category because (fortunately) they are rare. Even if the incident is minor, the media treats them as very significant news events. Although we tend to think of agencies located near airports as the most likely responders to these scenes, the reality is that any responder could find themselves as first on scene at an aircraft accident. Over the past several years, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been putting together an online course for the first responder community and recently, the course was rolled out. (There is one module still under development). It should become standard training for all first responders including law enforcement, fire personnel and emergency medical service personnel.

The Federal Aviation Administration Online Course

The FAA First Responders Training can be found online at the link posted below. The training presently consists of five modules with a sixth module still being developed. The training is broken down as follows:

Module 1: Systems and Material Hazards

  • Recommended for firefighters and EMS
  • Primary module that identifies hazards unique to aircraft accidents
  • Including: Scene Approach/Access, PPE, Combustion concerns, Bio-hazards, Material Hazards, Aircraft system hazards, Aircraft safety system (ballistic parachute systems and airbags)

For those unfamiliar, the ballistic parachute is offered on some small general aviation aircraft. The system deploys a large parachute in the case of emergency. If such an aircraft was to become involved in an accident/incident it would be very prudent for rescuers to be aware of the location of such systems. In addition, many military aircraft, particularly fighter jets, also have potential hazards present in the ejection seat systems.

Module 2: Aircraft Type Familiarization and Mission Specific Hazards

  • Recommended for firefighters and EMS
  • Outlines aircraft variations in service and hazards associated with certain aircraft usage
  • Including general types of small aircraft and helicopters, commercial roles of small aircraft/helicopters and associated hazards

Module 3: Command and Recovery

  • Recommended for firefighters, EMS and law enforcement for aircraft accident protocol development.
  • Recognizes operational protocol for managing an accident scene and requirements related to the investigation of the accident
  • Including: Initial management of the scene, considerations for pending investigation and investigating authority (NTSB, FAA), scene preservation, security, witness/media considerations

Module 4: Ballistic Parachute System Familiarization

  • Recommended for firefighters and recovery personnel.
  • Provides information that will detail the installation, operation and techniques used by manufacturers to disable a Ballistic Parachute System so that the first responder will have a better understanding if tasked by the manufacturer to disable the system
  • Including: system identification/overview/operation, considerations for manufacturer disabling

Module 5: Systems and Material Hazards for Rescuers

  • Recommended for police, airport and the aviation community or others that may be tasked with initial rescue.
  • Provides material from Module 1, however recognizes that PPE may not be equivalent to firefighter/EMS SCBA and does not address extrication
  • Including: Scene Approach/Access, PPE, Combustion concerns, Bio-hazards, Material Hazards, Aircraft system hazards, Aircraft safety system (ballistic parachute systems and airbags)
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