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Thu 29 March 2012
Cape Town International airport tests its full scale emergency readiness

Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) activated its full scale Aerodrome Emergency exercise at 10h00 today.  The approximate duration of the exercise was 3 hours and included various role-players which included the South African Police Services, the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Risk Management, the South African National Defence Force, Emergency Medical Response (EMS), amongst others.

The exercise which is held every second year, is mandated by South African Aviation legislation as defined by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). “This is a full-scale exercise designed to thoroughly test emergency procedures and responses and includes all the participants which would be called upon in the event of a major aircraft incident at the airport. Apart from evaluating all role-players’ responsiveness, this year’s exercise was also aimed at establishing better communication flow between participants as well as testing our access control and identification procedures,” says Deborah Francis, Senior Communications Officer, ACSA: CTIA.

The exercise scenario simulated an aircraft which ran out of fuel and subsequently crash-landed short of runway 19. ACSA together with the various emergency response role players have done extensive planning since January in preparation for today’s exercise. “Emergency response preparedness is an important aspect of our work at the airport. Because an emergency response requires co-operation between various role players, it is critical that we jointly test and rehearse our procedures on a regular basis” continued Francis.

The exercise provides the various agencies the opportunity to test all elements of their emergency response plans including capabilities of emergency equipment, personnel, and communication systems. “Key to the exercise is the opportunity to identify and proactively correct problems in airport emergency planning and to test the adequacy of the plan to cope with different types of emergencies we may experience at the airport, hence the intended outcome is hopefully to reveal any inherent weaknesses in our procedures,” Francis added.

The exercise Code named Operation Hawk saw Blue Sky Airlines crash landing short of the runway with a MD 82 aircraft, carrying 100 passengers and five crew on board. In total there are approximately 600 participants ranging from the various role players and other volunteers who ‘acted’ as passengers, meeters and greeters for the passengers on board, observers and so forth.

“Upon receipt of the emergency call made by the airport, the Disaster Risk Management Centre activated all the Emergency Agencies. The responding agencies were dispatched after the initial emergency call which included Disaster Risk Management Centre, Fire and Rescue Services, Traffic Services, Law Enforcement, Emergency Medical Services and Other Specialised Units. The City has deployed 24 fire vehicles to Cape Town International Airport to support and assist with fire fighting and rescue efforts from Fire Stations City-Wide. Law Enforcement Officers have also been deployed to assist with crowd control and to do point-duties at intersections to ensure free flow of traffic and that operations at the Airport is not impacted upon”, said Charlotte Powell from the City’s Disaster Risk Management Centre.

Normal airport operations were not affected during the emergency exercise.

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