Mock plane crash tests emergency responders

Emergency responders attend the scene of a complicated mock plane crash.

The Brac was temporarily transformed into a disaster scene as emergency responders took part in a full-scale exercise staged at the Charles Kirkconnell International Airport last month.

The Cayman Islands Airports Authority organizes emergency exercises in Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac every two years as part of international requirements, according to a press release.

The Brac exercise, called Operation Wet Deal, was held on Nov. 30. It involved the mock crash of a commercial plane following a bird strike to both engines, which caused the aircraft to dive into the coastline and one of its engines to explode on impact.

The press release states that the main objective was to test the ability of airport staff and emergency response agencies as they worked together in an organized response to save lives.

“Living on an island surrounded by water presents its own challenges for aviation. At the top of the list is the possibility of an aircraft accident in the water,” said CIAA Chief Safety Officer Andrew McLaughlin.

“For this reason, the Airports Authority Emergency Planning Committee wanted to do something different with this exercise, and added an element of a partial crash in the water to further complicate the accident scenario,” he said.

He added that he was very pleased with the way it turned out, and that lessons were learned.

Agencies involved included the Civil Aviation Authority, H.M. Rescue and Fire Fighting Service, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Sister Islands Emergency Committee, Department of Immigration, Emergency Medical Services, Cayman Islands Red Cross, Port Authority of the Cayman Islands, Cayman Airways and the Health Services Authority.

“In playing out the scenario, the normal assets required for a water response were not readily available, and when the call for assistance went out, a local diving company called Reef Divers was happy to assist with the water rescue element,” said Mr. McLaughlin.

“It was very reassuring to see the Reef Divers boat attend the scene of the accident and provide search and rescue services side by side with the Fire Service.

“These type of exercises are extremely important in maintaining our International Airport Certification and could not happen without the help of the adjoining community at the airport.”

Mr. McLaughlin thanked the beachfront property owners who accommodated the request to use their land, as well as all the government and nongovernment agencies, volunteers and students from Layman Scott High School.

“Without their volunteerism and participation we just could not make this happen,” said Mr. McLaughlin.

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