A ‘passenger aircraft which caught fire while landing’ at the Mysuru airport sent the authorities scampering to get their act together for rescue and relief operations on December 13.
The calibrated response ensured that the operation was completed within 35 minutes. Though two passengers were ’declared dead’, the fire was doused within two minutes while the injured were ’shifted’ to a hospital for ’treatment’, which helped minimise the fatalities.
The ’rescue operation’ followed the disaster management template and standard operating procedure to the minutest details in what was a full-fledged drill conducted by the airport authorities at Mysuru.
“It not only helped test our level of preparedness and the response time but also provided a serious rehearsal to the staff to handle any emergency,” said R. Manjunath, Director of Mysuru airport.
Nearly 80 personnel drawn from different agencies took part in the drill and the role of each agency was well defined.
The first to respond to the ‘disaster’ were the fire and emergency personnel who were at the tarmac within minutes and doused the fire quickly.
The medical team comprising the doctors and nurses were the next to reach the spot. The ’injured passengers’ were shifted to the temporary triage area created near the tarmac. The ’severely injured passengers’ were accorded priority while shifting them to a hospital.
The ’pilot’ of the ’ill-fated flight’ and the ’cabin crew’ suffered ‘minor injuries’, and were administered first aid. The alacrity with which the medical staff administered treatment on the spot and the pace at which drivers shifted the ’victims’ were put to test.
Mr. Manjunath said a model of the plane was specially prepared for the drill. The exercise commenced at 11.20 a.m. with the model plane ’catching fire’ to mark the beginning of the drill. But the raging flames were extinguished within minutes while the rescue and salvage operations were completed in less than 35 minutes.
Apart from the fire and emergency personnel, the drill entailed coordination and participation of the Karnataka Industrial Security Police, State Police, medical and paramedical staff drawn from Apollo and JSS hospitals, said B. Sudhir of District Disaster Management Authority, Mysuru.
The exercise of simulating a disaster scenario and conducting a drill in rescue, relief and salvaging operations is carried out once in two years across all airports, said Mr. Manjunath. However, it could not be held for two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, he added.
Mr. Manjunath said the simulation was as realistic as possible and though a drill, it helps in quick thinking and taking spot decisions, which is crucial while handling an emergency in a real-life situation. The full-scale drill helps in ensuring coordination of different agencies of the government, and medical and paramedical staff, which is crucial in handling any emergency.