A new airport emergency plan has come a step closer to being implemented. Representatives of emergency services and aviation professionals met at Owen Roberts International Airport for a tabletop planning session to test procedures and work out any issues.
Andrew McLaughlin, senior manager of safety management systems and chairman of the Airports Emergency Planning Committee, said work has been ongoing between the Cayman Islands Airports Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of the Cayman Islands to create a new airport emergency plan. The previous system has been in place for some years and needs updating, he said.
“The end result is earth-breaking in terms of the safety order. We have completely streamlined and redesigned the manual from basically years and years of the same format, still maintaining all the regulatory requirements that Civil Aviation holds us to.
“International Civil Aviation requires that we hold an exercise every two years with all the entities.
We have gone beyond that, and the CEO of the airport, Jeremy Jackson, has mandated that we do some sort of exercise every six months to keep the team sharp and keep the inter-agency communications going and working together better,” he said.
Each agency, such as Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, the Fire Service and emergency medical assistance, forms its own plan and at exercises such as the simulation, they come together to ensure that operations mesh together and lines of communication are effective.
The exercise included a scenario of a plane having experienced a brake failure on landing.
Subsequently the aircraft suffered a fire and damage to its right wing, which suffered an open fuel leak. According to this on-paper exercise, there were four minor injuries.
Accident response teams from the Cayman Islands Airports Authority, Fire Service, the police, customs, the health service, hazard management. 911 and British Airways gathered around a table to go through the procedure for responding to, and managing, the imaginary incident.
“It’s very important to have the tools, trucks and equipment depicted which helps add realism, to be able to move things around the map and put things together on the grid.
“Getting these agencies together [can be difficult] but there’s no other way to do it; we have to get the interaction going. We want procedures well in advance so we know every time [how things work].”
A new aspect was the inclusion of hazard management, which will act as national coordinator, adding significant resources and support, plus the implementation of a computer-based accident reporting system.
A full-scale ‘real-world’ accident simulation is scheduled to take place during April.