Future Of Aviation Emergency Response Plans

Emergency SeaplanePicture: Sky Terry via Flickr

A Thank You To The Volunteers And Why I Believe Training Is So Key When It Comes to Emergency Response Plans.

Picture: Sky Terry via Flickr

Picture: Sky Terry via Flickr

After 5 years of conducting Emergency Seaplane Exercises and my experiences as an Army combat life saver prior to that, plus years in the Emergency Medical Services, I have learned a few things.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Without these contributions, the Emergency Seaplane Response Plan (ESRP) would never have come into existence or had its value recognized.[/pullquote]I’d like to share about what I believe will be important to the future development of integrating water and land aviation into emergency response plans. First is the incredible quality of the volunteers. The EMS professionals that drive great distances from different counties to come together with these communities. The pilots, from the Washington Seaplane Pilots Association and Kenmore Air, that continue to donate their time and aircraft for this effort.

group cprWithout these contributions, the Emergency Seaplane Response Plan (ESRP) would never have come into existence or had its value recognized. We are now entering a new phase where we are working to develop ground teams to support seaplane, float-plane, and land-based general aviation operations. This preparation is critical as both land and sea options are going to be needed when the time comes.  The way our emergency services and communities are coming together to develop these teams in a way that integrates with the standard response system is wonderful.

Consistency of training throughout these different areas is critically important. It’s also vital to recognize the need for environment specific training when working close to these aircraft because there are unique challenges that many EMS personnel don’t encounter outside of these training events.

Emergency SeaplaneA graphic personal example highlights the importance of consistent, thorough training. I got more credit than I feel I deserve, because I just did as I was trained to do. While walking through the woods in a nearby park with my son I became involved in a successful CPR after a man jumped into a whirl pool at the base of a waterfall and was sucked under for about four minutes.  Three bystanders and I worked together and managed to get our patient’s pulse and breathing back before EMS arrived. The reason we were successful was training. I had never met the other three that helped prior to that day, but because we were all trained in CPR in the same way we were able to bring a man back from the dead. That training also allowed us to communicate in a language that we all understood. Another aspect that helped me personally, was prior hands-on training as a CPR instructor and the numerous traffic accidents I seem to have a knack for running across.  This consistent training makes a difference.

Emergency Seaplane

The CPR was performed on the rock below my feet in the picture.

When it comes to float operations, and even land-based aviation operations, there is a whole host of specialized language that is important for effective and safe operations. This is in addition to the normal Incident Command Structure (ICS) training, that is also very important for proper communication with normal response agencies like FEMA, National Guard, Fire Departments, etc.

The following links, covering several years, illustrate the interaction between volunteers and professionals during effective ground and hands-on training.

You tube of two springs MCI’s;

5 years worth of pictures of training’s can be found here

The result of general aviation working alongside traditional resources can be impressive. The following links to a news piece where general aviation pilots delivered ½ million pounds of supplies to a community cut off by a major earthquake.

One of the greatest examples for how all this comes together and makes a lifesaving difference, is the story of United 232. The DC-10 lost all hydraulics and cratered the runway when it disintegrated upon impact. Because of the prior training of EMS, DEM, National Guard and community resources, who practiced and knew the drill down to muscle memory, over 100 lives were saved. »Click here for more details on this event«

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]A very special thanks to all that have put in the long hours, hard work, and the uphill climb at times to achieve our current level of preparedness.[/pullquote]Examples like these highlight how multiple areas in our state and multiple levels of response agencies are recognizing the value of these resources on land and in the water. This has me optimistic about the future for disaster response in our own state when the “big one” hits.

A very special thanks to all that have put in the long hours, hard work, and the uphill climb at times to achieve our current level of preparedness. I am excited by the new communities, emergency service professionals, and other volunteers that are taking solid steps to work together to integrate these resources and better prepare our state.

Sky Terry – NW Regional Emergency Services Director with EVAC- Emergency Volunteer Air Corps.