The capabilities of Ogle Airport Inc. were tested with a “Live Fire and Mass Casualty Exercise” yesterday, under the direction of visiting Firefighting Instructor and Technical Rescue Consultant Jack Mc Govern.
McGovern is a firefighter from the United States where he teaches a variety of classes. These range from company level and fire ground operations to management level courses including senior level command of complex incidents. He has been coming to Guyana since 2006 where he has been tutoring at the Ogle International Airport.
In attendance, yesterday, were members of the Police Force, Civil Aviation Authority, Civil Defence Commission, the Guyana Defence Force and visiting officials from the Cheddi Jagan International Airport Corporation.
The purpose of the exercise was to test the capabilities of Ogle Airport, including the Guyana Fire Service’s operations at the Airport – to respond to a plane crash at the airport involving victims, either seriously injured or killed from the crash and/or from a fire resulting from the crash.
All airport personnel and aircraft operators, as well as all external agencies, were involved in the exercise which lasted a little more than half an hour.
The entire event appeared to be very realistic in nature. In the simulation of the plane crash, fourteen persons were rescued by firefighters, while the triage was operated in the GuySuCo hangar.
The firefighters were prompt and ambulances were rushed in, while taxis also assisted. The passengers that were rescued from the simulated crash were tagged with red for severe injuries, yellow for not seriously injured, green for minor injuries, and black for death. There were two reds, three yellow and six green, who were all transported to the hospital and treated accordingly. There were also three passengers who were tagged black
The activity was observed by Incident and Triage commanders who reported their findings to superiors.
According to the Technical Rescue Consultant, there will be a formal evaluation of what transpired, while the evaluators will make recommendations based on their observations.
Acting Director-General of the Civil Aviation Authority, Paula Mc Adam, opined that the exercise was very well done, while noting that there is always room for improvement.
She noted that the exercise is conducted every two years, but advised that there is need for more practice exercises to be done between the two-year time span to fully engage all members of the airport’s shift system.
Lieutenant Colonel Francis Abraham of the Civil Defence Commission said there is much that is to be done to develop the Casualty Exercise.
“The response from the fire service was reasonable…there was some amount of disconnection between the fire and the aircraft, the event was very realistic by using an aircraft, but there was a rescue operation that was going on while a fire was still being extinguished, that is a no-no. The fire is supposed to be extinguished by the firefighters before the victims are taken out from the aircraft.”
Abraham noted that in the future, there is need for a doctor to be present at the exercise to take over the medical operations, which would enable the proper recommendations and treatment of crash victims.
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