There is a Difference —
And That is Okay!
BY JOHN KINNEY, C.M.
What does an airport’s comprehensive Emergency
Management Program (EMP) contain? Is developing an
Incident Command System (ICS) for airports the key?
No, ICS is just one small aspect of the program —
but a very important one. A comprehensive EMP
for an airport contains many unique approaches and
programs under a unified command. An effective
EMP trains and performs exercises based on local
“reasonable worst case” scenarios. It is led by a
group that will remove the artificiality in training and
exercises that can create a false sense of preparedness
in the long term.
PHOTO BY: ANDREW R. STAMP, SECURITY OPERATIONS OFFICER,
ELMIRA CORNING (NEW YORK) REGIONAL AIRPORT
A comprehensive EMP embraces
Federal Emergency Management
Agency (FEMA), FAA and TSA
frameworks, and adds other
aspects beyond these guidelines
and regulations. That is okay, and I
encourage the customization.
Effective EMP exercises should
bring an edge of reality by stressing
your current system and plans:
1 Be sure to aggressively test-drive
response and recovery plans
2 Learn where your breaking
3 Mitigate the vulnerabilities
during calm times as opposed
to finding weak links during
This only partially defines what
an EMP at an airport includes.
A universal definition of
“emergency management” is
missing from the airport industry.
Currently, definitions exist for other
core programs such as Part 139
and TSR 1544. However, when you
dissect the contents of an effective
EMP for a specific airport, you will
discover that it most likely was
created through a path not as well
established as the trails of content
for Part 139 and/or Part 1542.
An airport should create a
hybrid EMP that is responsive to
the unique environment of that
airport. Emergency management
at an airport is far different than
within a municipality. The two
venues are getting closer in their
respective approaches, but airports
are unique economic and political
machines operating on a regional
and international stage that compete
for market share. If airports limit
their efforts in developing an EMP
directly to the guidance of FEMA
or to the combination of TSA and
FAA, they will have major gaps
An effective EMP, specific to
airports, requires all responders