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CJIA to test its emergency responses Nov. 6

If a plane crashes at Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) how effective will be the rescue response?

On November 6, 2013, the CJIA said in a statement that a full scale preparedness exercise will be unleashed to testthe airport’s emergency responses while providing hands-on experience for airport and airline staff, hospitals, fire service, security and other emergency personnel.

During the simulated exercise, personnel will respond as in a real scenario, including the use of sirens, firefighting equipment and other emergency vehicles. 

An Airport Emergency Committee, which usually plans for any emergency at the Airport, began preparation for the exercise more than six months ago in developing the scenario and coordinating the logistics for the large-scale event. 

Ramesh Ghir, the airport’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) explained that “the simulation is a great opportunity to test the airport’s readiness to respond to any emergency. We always have to ensure that key airport stakeholders and first responders are aware of their roles in the event of an emergency where timing and coordination are key elements to saving lives and saving expensive assets. The full scale emergency exercise takes place every two years and is a requirement of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).”

Meanwhile, a script outlines exactly what areas will be tested during the exercise. This criterion was crafted by experts from various law enforcement and health agencies.

“The element of surprise is key. The first responders will respond to the scene of the accident and these personnel will be tested on how they will react in a real emergency when making decisions,” said Andre Kellman, the airport’s Deputy Operations Manager, who is coordinating the response for emergency personnel during the exercise.

Testing, testing

A sign test was conducted on October 23 at the proposed crash site. According to Kellman, clear signages are important because they lessen the chaos and traffic congestion during a ‘real life incident”.

“Traffic control is a major challenge…so we want to get the signs right which will guide the police and other emergency crew to the scene,” he explained to Committee members.

Moreover, the roles that each agency will play in the exercise were also cemented at the October 23 meeting. The Guyana Defence Force, Customs and Immigration, Ministry of Health, Caribbean Airlines, Guyana Civil Aviation Authority, Civil Defence Commission and the Guyana Police Force are among the stakeholders for the November simulation exercise.