The Cayman Islands Airports Authority (CIAA) conducted a full-scale emergency exercise at Charles Kirkconnell International Airport this month.
The exercise brought a dozen response agencies to Cayman Brac to test their preparedness and actions in the event of a real-life airport or aircraft emergency.
The simulation involved a commercial aircraft crashing into the sea off the coast of Cayman Brac after the pilot reported trouble controlling the aircraft.
In the emergency scenario, the plane was heading to Charles Kirkconnell International Airport from Miami International Airport with 16 persons onboard.
Moments after the simulated impact, the Cayman Islands Fire Service responded with a rescue launch to recover any survivors from the deep ocean.
Fourteen volunteers from the Cayman Islands Red Cross acted as victims of the crash, complete with realistic-looking wounds and injuries applied by volunteer make-up artists.
“All volunteers acted with great enthusiasm and passion in order to give the best challenge to emergency responders who carried out their roles with precision as if a real emergency had occurred,” the CIAA said in a press release.
Responders were also monitored for COVID-19 precautions in this scenario.
The exercise was based on emergency response principles taught by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) in its Mass Casualty Management and Incident Command System (ICS) courses.
CIAA Chief Safety Management Officer Andrew McLaughlin, who organised and coordinated the exercise on Cayman Brac, said planning an airport emergency exercise of this magnitude starts about six months earlier.
“An Airport Emergency Planning Committee assists in crafting the exercise scenario with the goal of creating an exercise that will not only challenge all of the responders but also present the least amount of impact on airport operations and movements of the general public,” he said.
McLaughlin explained, “These exercises are a part of the Cayman Islands Airports’ certification process but, more importantly, demonstrate to the airport community and general public that we are prepared to respond in any emergency with highly skilled and trained personnel dedicated to ensuring possible victims are given the best opportunity for survival.”
Participating agencies in the exercise included the Cayman Islands Fire Service, Royal Cayman Islands Police Service, Department of Public Safety Communication, Faith Hospital Emergency Medical Services, Cayman Border Control, Joint Communications Services, Cayman Airways Ltd., Cayman Islands Red Cross, Sister Island Emergency Committee, Cayman Islands Civil Aviation Authority, Travel Cayman and Hazard Management Cayman Islands.
McLaughlin said, “I am very proud of the time, level of engagement and participation of all persons who were involved in this particular exercise, which saw the most participation from external agencies to date.”
He added, “While the emergency responders were aware COVID-19 precautions were needed, saving lives took precedence and, although some mistakes were made, this type of training will allow us to craft better procedures to ensure victims receive the best care while our responders protect themselves as well as their loved ones from transmission of this very dangerous virus.”