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Firefighters involved in the crash simulation at Shannon Airport today. Picture: Arthur Ellis

Shannon tests its emergency response capacity

ON Tuesday a crash-exercise was staged at Shannon to test the response of the airport to such an event, writes Owen Ryan.

The airport’s co-operation with primary emergency agencies and other key stakeholders who would be called on in the event of a major aircraft accident at the airport was also under the microscope.

Participating agencies include Shannon Airport, Clare County Council Fire Service, An Garda Síochána Clare Division, the Health Service Executive, the Irish Coast Guard, the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) and Shannon Foynes Port Authority.

Commenting on the crash-exercise, Niall Maloney, Shannon Airport Operations & Commercial Director said: “Crash-exercises are conducted every two years at Shannon Airport as a condition of our aerodrome certification and we use the opportunity then in conjunction with the other emergency services to test the regional major emergency plan and site-specific arrangements for the airport.

“It was also an opportunity to test our airport’s state-of-the-art High Reach Extendable Turret (HRET) fire tenders. Using cutting edge technology and equipped with thermal imaging cameras, these HRET’s allow firefighters identify the hottest part of the aircraft, vital knowledge that is needed to suppress and extinguish aviation fires as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“The safety of our passengers, customer airlines and staff is paramount to us and today’s exercise allows us to test our readiness for a real-life situation should it ever occur. It is about ensuring that, if the worst-case scenario happens, we and our colleagues in the other attending emergency services are adequately prepared to respond.”

The two- hour exercise, code-named ‘Exercise Juliet,’ was based on a fictitious incident involving a Boeing 767-300 aircraft with 100 passengers and 10 crew on board declaring a full emergency and diverting to Shannon. The simulation also involved the participants being told that the aircraft might have to ditch into the Shannon Estuary.

“In all in excess of 50 personnel across all agencies were involved in the exercise on the day and we would like to thank them all for this assistance,” said Niall Maloney.

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