SMS Success Story – Crisis Management and Emergency Response

SMS Success Story – Crisis Management and Emergency Response

4-Aug-2011 Source: CHC

A duty engineer informed the duty captain that he could smell gas in the CHC hangar at Stornoway, Scotland.

The smell of gas was confirmed by fellow employees, prompting the duty captain to initiate the Emergency Response Plan (ERP).

Within minutes of smelling the gas, staff evacuated the entire building before the crew were relocated to the airport terminal, aircraft were moved to South Apron and all relevant personnel and authorities were notified.

When an emergency occurs, how critical is crisis management and emergency response?

“I have found over the years that ERP exercises are of enormous benefit in ensuring we are all suitably prepared to react in the unlikely event of having to deal with an actual emergency situation,” said Captain John Bentley, Manager of Flight Operations UK SAR and Chief Pilot in Stornoway.

During the evacuation, due to the relocation of the aircraft and crew, the Search and Rescue response time was dropped to 45 minutes readiness from 15 minutes readiness.  The details of the situation at Stornoway were relayed to the Rescue Coordination Centre to ensure the customer, the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency, was kept fully in the picture. The ERP was followed and appropriate CHC management were notified before the airport fire officer informed CHC that the gas leak had been found. Following emergency repairs to the gas supply, the Stornoway crew returned to building and the aircraft returned to 15 minute SAR readiness. In all, the identification of the leak, the evacuation, the response and the introduction of staff back into the work place took only a few hours.

The quick return to base was attributed to CHC’s focus on training for emergencies and the prompt and effective reaction of the duty personnel.
All CHC bases maintain site-specific emergency response plans which address response procedures and needed resources for all reasonably anticipated emergencies.  These emergencies are not limited to aviation emergencies or incidents, but include natural disasters, civil unrest or any unacceptable threat to the safety of personnel.

These plans follow a common template to be as consistent as possible.  This enables effective alerting up the chain of responsibility, which in turn allows CHC to allocate resources and assets in order to expedite assistance to the affected area.

“CHC recognizes the necessity of training for emergencies to ensure that all employees who may be called upon in an emergency have the necessary skills, experience and confidence to perform their duties safely and effectively; investing in the time required to conduct drills on a regular basis pays dividends when the need to put the theory into practice becomes a reality,” said Duncan Trapp, Vice-President, Safety & Quality, CHC Helicopter Services.  “It ensures that, like the team at Stornoway, they are ready to react and to effectively minimize the risk and the disruption to operations.”

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