A MARTIAL LAW
port perimeter. An official chain of command and
multi-agency point of contacts allow for a smoother transition to a martial law setting. Fire and
rescue personnel will be limited as well. Airfield
maintenance, airport tenant and FBO personnel all
will have to participate.
One important program that has gained in popularity is the Community Emergency Response
Team (CERT). This program takes non-emergency
personnel and teaches them to be first responder
team members. CERT members can assist with
basic first aid, act as litter bearers or provide
general manpower. Airport-to-airport mutual aid
agreements can assist with long-term events. The
Southeast Airports Disaster Operations Group
(SEADOG) and West Coast Disaster Operations
Group (WestDog) have been established to assist
airports in these types of circumstances.
Another major consideration is how to house
and feed the first responders. After the San
Francisco earthquake, some emergency personnel were on duty for days. Dozens of fire fighters,
police and airport maintenance workers need to
eat and rest periodically to continue working at
peak performance. Where will they work, eat,
sleep, shower or change clothes? Food service vendors will have perishable food that will need to be
eaten and may last only a day or two. Additionally,
ready packaged meals and water must be stockpiled for extended events.
As with most typical communities, we are totally
dependent upon the local communications system.
Telephone, two-way radio systems, cell phones,
pagers and air cards are popular choices. All of
these electronic systems are dependent on an operating infrastructure. When the towers, repeaters
and generators go down, the entire communications
system collapses. Most communities today rely
on digital communications because the signals are
much stronger, clearer and more dependable. With
a digital system, the signal must bounce off a tower
and repeater to be relayed back to the receiver.
Most 800mz radio systems are still capable of
analog communications or radio-to-radio transmission. Local emergency management maintains
an 8Call/8Tac backup system that can be used in
Here in Memphis, we conducted an airport-wide communications exercise that encompassed
a communications infrastructure failure following
a catastrophic event. Coordination with every airport tenant having a communications capability
was accomplished, and many unanticipated issues
Another important consideration for the fire service is special operations training. Specialized rescue is a two-fold issue of training and equipment.
Technician level training for the disciplines of hazardous materials, confined space, trench and rope
rescue, and structural collapse are expensive and
time consuming. It is important for fire fighters to
understand the principles involved in each of these
specialized operations. Remember, the cavalry is not
on its way, and you must work with what you have.
Allowing victims to remain untreated for hours without some type of rescue attempt is not an option.
Structural collapse is probably the most dangerous and challenging operation non-specialized