Fort Smith’s health centre initiated a protocol to respond to mass casualties Tuesday morning, soon after a plane crashed near the community.
In a news release just after 2 p.m. MT, the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority said that protocol will stay in place “until official direction is received that the incident response has concluded.”
It said the health centre is still open for emergencies, but regular appointments may be rescheduled to free up resources to respond to the crash.
“NTHSSA is unable to release any details about the incident or any impacted individuals at this time due to patient confidentiality,” the health authority wrote.
It still isn’t clear how many people were aboard the Northwestern Air Lease flight, or what their condition is.
Earlier Tuesday afternoon, the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) announced it is deploying a team of investigators to investigate the crash, which involved a BAE Jetstream aircraft.
The TSB says it is gathering information and assessing the incident.
The RCMP, the Canadian Rangers and the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) all responded to a report of lost contact with an aircraft outside of Fort Smith Tuesday morning, a spokesperson for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) has confirmed.
The air force dispatched a CC 138 Twin Otter from 440 Squadron in Yellowknife and a CC 130J Hercules out of 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Trenton to assist with search and rescue, said David Lavallee, a public affairs officer with the RCAF in Winnipeg.
It also dispatched a CC 130H from 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron in Winnipeg, which had been in Calgary for training.
RCMP and Canadian Rangers conducted a ground search, Lavallee said.
The Rangers located the missing aircraft west of Fort Smith near Slave River.
Search and rescue techs equipped with survival and medical equipment then parachuted to the scene.
A spokesperson for the RCMP confirmed Tuesday afternoon that a plane had crashed near Fort Smith and that its officers were providing assistance to Transport Canada and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre.
However, authorities have yet to release more details about the incident, such as the number of passengers on board and the condition of those on board.
In a post to the Town of Fort Smith’s official Facebook page at around 9:40 a.m. MT, officials notified residents of “an aviation incident,” that had occured that morning.
“This is a new situation, and the Town of Fort Smith is preparing to respond and provide support in any way,” the notice read.
The town asked residents to stay away from the area “to allow emergency response experts the ability to respond accordingly.”
Fire trucks, police cars and ambulances could all be seen at the airport with lights flashing, and people were not allowed to enter the airport.
More to come.