COMMUNITY-WIDE DISASTERS: ARE WE PREPARED?
BY DAVID Y. WHITAKER
As an emergency responder organization, we can never be fully prepared to manage every incident the airport may encounter. We can, however, plan and
practice unique incidents to understand their
complexities. In the unlikely event of a full-scale,
community-wide disaster, the airport must prepare
to become an island.
We spend the majority of our efforts preparing to handle the most common and challenging
everyday issues. Fuel spills, alerts, medical calls
and safety inspections fill our daily routine. Even a
major event at the airport does not necessarily disable the entire community. In the event of a mass
casualty incident, airplane crash, or hazardous
materials incident, we call on our local municipality or mutual aid department’s resources for
assistance. We use our on-property resources to
guide and direct these supporting services, but in a
community-wide disaster, local resources may not
be immediately available.
Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornados or terrorist
attacks may cripple your entire community. Your
airport very well may be cut off from the outside
resources on which you depend. What you have
on the property at the time of the incident may be
all you have to work with for hours or possibly
days. Off-duty airport personnel may not be able
to return to work, and many on-duty personnel
will want to leave to check on family members. We
will examine a few of the immediate concerns that
must be addressed prior to this type of incident.