During the past decade the advancement towards technical design concepts regarding aircraft construction have been considerable.
The aircraft’s role, performance and capability have without question taken transport into a new era for passenger safety. The complexities in construction methods, dimensions and materials bring with it vast challenges towards not only airports and airline operators but emergency services are confronted with dealing with incidents involving aircraft. Historically, there have been a number of incidences in the UK in which aviation and municipal fire and rescue services have conducted operations at the scene of an aviation related incident. Incidents occurring within the operational response area of the aerodrome rescue service will of course be responded to by the operational aerodrome fire and rescue service, however this will impact on the operational fire category of the aerodrome and the airfields ability to remain open for any additional traffic.
Dependant on the nature and severity of the aircraft accident or incident, aerodrome operational contingencies will be immediately applied and the correct and appropriate measured approach to the use of rescue facilities be utilised. Airfield operations working closely with the senior fire and rescue incident commander of the aerodrome will identify the requirements and response in order to facilitate the commercial and on-going business needs. Therefore as soon as is practicable, be in a position to maintain the required fire category in order for the airfield may remain operational.
It is within this area of activity that a greater level of understanding and an effective level of response co-ordination can be applied. Not only within the aerodrome boundary, but the specified critical response area of the aerodrome with the combined assets, both the aviation and the municipal fire and rescue services are employed.
Management of vehicles, equipment, facilities and resources from every emergency service must be controlled effectively to concentrate the field of activity and core initial functions at the scene of operations. A proven approach to incident command will optimise assets, increase availability and provide great resilience throughout the incident. Incident command and the levels of functional control must be established and maintained throughout. The command structure should strive to observe the best practise and the operational abilities of those attending, and ensure these be employed most effectively at the earliest opportunity. Specialist experience and supervision of assets utilised at the early stages will prove most effective and will impact on overall outcome of the event. Considerations must be apportioned to the welfare for all staff engaged for the purpose of rescue and fire fighting.
Municipal and aviation fire and rescue services should have a strategy of interaction, not only when a field of operations occur, but to create a personal bond between services. Liaison should be structured with the intent to improve training, forge relationships, and explore vocational training between services. This practise will also assist in preventing any unnecessary collision between services through embracing what is essentially a best practise approach and enjoying the interaction of transferable skills. This concept is in no way a new strategy but one that when emergency services and their dimensions are evolving, it should be reviewed for the future.
The management and planning of operational training requires the aerodrome fire and rescue service, and the localised emergency services to have a more integrated role map. Current objectives may be met in the form of pre-arranged inter-agency liaison meetings between the local fire stations and the airfield fire service. Far reaching attention to contingency planning and training delivery may form part of developing an adequate provision of logistical technical advisory co-ordinators between emergency training establishments.
A purpose designed aviation liaison training programme, in which each service provider is able to join together and devise greater control during operational incidents, will improve knowledge, under pinning operational considerations and met both emergency service needs under a local agreement.
The case for improvement suggests that there is currently a short fall identified in this area, due to the fact that a good number of fire and rescue services have no aviation related specialist training facilities. Inter-service consultative meetings may identify the requirement for the need to development in this field of operational understanding.
Further far reaching applications to any reciprocal training course could be to provide an incident scene management programme. The tasks being performed will not be as rigorous and aim to deal with small and less dynamic incidents and the eventual preservation of evidence.
However, it is important to take into account when arranging such activities, the constraints in the form of finance, environmental issues, operational equipment, serviceability, and the general wear and tear of all facilities. All fire services are recognised as going through a dynamic and transitional state and expenditure must be considered against training and the efficient outcome. Aviation training, and the need for which is currently understated and therefore should be taken in to account considering the possibility for external services attending such an incident, in the current and dynamic political climate. The likelihood of municipal fire and emergency services attending an aviation related incident some distance from any aerodrome, and therefore without the attendance of the aviation fire and rescue service, has a high probability, indicating an area which needs development and greater attention. Some services have already approached this matter and a response based forum of resilience maybe most beneficial. It is essential that supporting crews have the knowledge of aircraft and related incidents and casualty rescue. It has been recognised that some fire authorities have highlighted the fact that there is a need for aviation training due to the growing risk area and a joint liaison training format has improved their operational effectiveness at a crew level and a more proficient considered level of incident management.
The way in which any integrated aviation, municipal training course may be formulated must outline the benefits of incident command. Municipal and aviation rescue service have operational rank structures which on arrival at the aerodrome or aviation incident must integrate effectively and will when required to do so take control of an operational event. Falling in line with the Home Office publications, it provides the local authority with overall responsibility at the scene of a major incident. However, this rarely takes place due to the complexities of aircraft and any related hazards that they pose. The two services must understand and appreciate the course and the benefits which it possesses, and allow a smooth passage of information and exchange of empowerment. This if successful, would prove to be most effective.
The idea of being part of a provider rather than a receiver of information has a psychological effect and generates added interest in crew performance. Strong social attitudes form and the collaboration between the two organisations strengthen and create a more effective emergency response.
It may be said that the aerodrome emergency services have in the past been viewed as the lesser of the two. Any inter-agency working commitment should then endeavour to promote the aerodrome fire services ability and the way in which its crews deal with major operational incidents. Due to the construction of aircraft it is essential that all incidents or accidents are dealt with, with the emphasis placed on speed and efficiency.
The demonstration through liaison training can prove this and has the ability to motivate, not only the instructing staff, but all attending crews. It is essential that the motivation of fire fighting crews is maintained to provide an effective emergency service. A sense of purpose, belonging, and the ability to offer a high standard of effective rescue is of great importance to members of any emergency service, regardless of loyalties or employer. This has proven evident when attending the aviation events and the migration of responsibility and proactive approach to a cohesive incident management structure and a practical style of leadership being paramount.
From concept to completion any such programme will involve a host of different requirements and leadership styles. The concept of bringing two emergency fire services closer together, for one outcome will meet with both physical and psychological barriers which will have to be overcome. Local government and service stake holder interaction should aim to mitigate risk and aim to benefit from financial training agreements. Visionary skills will play a strong role, which must lead to the satisfaction of an increased enthusiasm, not only from the officer level, but all those who will potentially benefit from the outcome of any such Aviation and Municipal training interaction.
The future of the fire service and emergency services in general are continuously responding to challenge. Resilience is now playing a greater part in functional leadership, where services are becoming embedded and embracing continued operational capability, sensitive to the needs and budgets of both managements and individual service providers. Continued organisational management is extremely important to design, maintain and implement from its very concept and will without a doubt go a long way to improving operational response and tactical leadership.
The sad truth is that there will, at some time in the future, be a requirement for both services to respond operationally to an aviation accident or incident somewhere in the UK. It is the casualties rescue and not ours and with this in mind we are part of an effective rescue service merge when required to apply our skills in the most applicable method. It should therefore be essential that emergency services keep pace with the technological growth and advance proportionate to the potential hazards posed to the responding agencies. It may well be the case when a municipal fire and rescue service will attend such an event completely independently of partner agencies and will have benefited from the training and understanding gained though an allegiance with the aviation fire and rescue service.
A common bond should be struck not only with these services but with all and learn from past events in order to be ready for the future.
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