Men of the Aerodrome Rescue and Fire Fighting Services (ARFFS) rose from a ‘Stakeholders Strategic Conference on Aircraft Emergency’, to agree that a lot more can be done to ensure inter-agency collaboration to portray their readiness to handle emergencies when the need arises.
The delegates, comprising the ARFFS, management of different aviation parastatals; and a lot of stakeholders deliberated on the topic: “Aviation Emergency Management” proffering different approaches to ensure synergy and responsibility in handling crashes.
Chairman of the occasion and Managing Director of Nigeria Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Captain Fola Akinkuotu, who gave a goodwill message to kick-start the conference said that emergencies will not send SMS before they happen; and so, urged the fire fighters to be prepared at all times.
He stated, ” As pilots, everyday we fly and no matter how well-organized things are, sometimes accidents happened; and, as firefighters, we should go to work believing there will be an emergency and we must be prepared.”
He said,“This workshop is apt, given the strategic importance of ARFFS in the airport safety services domain. More Germane is the captured aim of the workshop, which is promoting collaboration between internal agencies and external assisting agencies in aircraft emergency rescue management.”
He was elated that the workshop was in tandem with the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO’s) emphasis on airport collaborative Decision Making (ACDM) as the most effective strategy in achieving an inclusive development.
He further stated that the contributions of the ARFFS was important and deserves priority attention.
In his presentation, Airport Emergency Planning; Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ARFFS Specialist, Marc Tonnacliff raised some pertinent factors needed in case of an emergency and how the chain of command should operate in the eventuality there is an accident.
He further explained that it was important to understand the intricacies of emergency planning; and urged all those involved to know their functions and how to act during any form of emergency.
Airport Manager, Ibadan Airport and the conference visioner, Mr. Akinlabi Akinselure, explained how important it was to get emergency numbers for res-ponders as against the practice of using individual numbers, which become unreliable.
” This is the reason the NCAA has not approved our Aerodrome Emergency Plan (AEP); as we put numbers for individuals there; and most times, they are transferred; and so, when you call for an emergency, the person cannot be on the ground to respond.
So we are asking management to get those numbers as it will make emergency responses easier.”
He also highlighted other problems to quick responses which, according to him, include lack of understanding on how to key into the AEP resulting to lack of proper co-ordination of the entire exercise and overcrowding of the entire scene of the emergency.
” We need to educate emergency responders on their roles in accordance to Aerodrome emergency plan; and we also need to key into this plan for effective control and coordination.”
General Manager ARFFS, Mr. John Ekpe, in his response to some queries raised called on the NCAA to look into reviewing the time for training and reevaluation as the time for those is quite short.
Ekpe, who was responding to the issue of training stated:”The time between competency and reevaluation is too short. Three years is not enough time to train 800 ARFFS, especially with the little funding available.”
He said, “The United Kingdom has done the same and had theirs reviewed to four years. We are asking the NCAA to review ours as it was done in the UK; if not, the time will elapse and there is no way to train over 800 firefighters nationwide in three years.”
Managing Director of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Engineer Saleh Dunoma, while speaking, said the conference was well-timed, especially as it addresses the challenges usually experienced in the handling and management of aircraft emergencies.
His representative, Director of Airport Operations, Captain Rabiu Hamisu Yadudu stated that it was apt due to the fact that the airport authority is currently undergoing the process of certifying all five major airports in the country.
According to him, emergency procedures of the airports were being reviewed and improved upon.
After the initial round of presentation, Yadudu reacted by stating that the most important things that should be taken out of the conference, one of which remains that everyone is important in an accident response, but not everyone is wanted to respond.
He said,”when incidents happen, emergency response is the business of all; and though everyone is needed, not everyone is wanted at the scene of an emergency.
If a crash happens no matter how highly placed I, as director, it is not my place to take command of the scene, as there are command officers who are trained on emergency responses.”