Airport emergency exercise alarms Entebbe community

Assumed survivors of the plane crash at Entebbe Airport look stranded during the emergency exercise on Friday. Photos | Courtesy

What you need to know:

  • The two-hour drill, which began at 11am, simulated a plane crash with 100 passengers and crew on board, resulting in 25 fatalities and 15 critical injuries.

Residents near Entebbe International Airport were startled by blaring sirens and rushing ambulances on Friday morning, but it was just a simulation exercise to test the airport's emergency response.

The two-hour drill, which began at 11am, simulated a plane crash with 100 passengers and crew on board, resulting in 25 fatalities and 15 critical injuries.

The exercise aimed to evaluate the airport's readiness to respond to emergencies, involving various agencies like fire-fighters, medical staff, and rescue teams.

Several ambulances and medical staff went to the scene and their readiness to ‘rescue’ and rush the ‘critically injured’ to hospitals in Entebbe and Kampala was tested.

The exercise saw medics from various hospitals, Uganda Airlines, Uganda Red Cross Society, Kazuri Medical, Police Medical Services, Uganda Peoples Defense Air Force (UPDAF), Aviation Police, Entebbe Police Fire Brigade, among others.

The Director General of Uganda Civil Aviation Authority (UCAA), Mr Fred Bamwesigye, explained that such exercises are mandatory for international airports and help identify areas for improvement.

"The exercise is a normal routine for international airports, and reports are shared with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). It's an important audit and compliance exercise which helps us to test emergency plans and procedures, communication framework, response times and coordination abilities of the participants," he said.

Entebbe airport staff during the emergency simulation drills on Friday

He noted that UCAA last carried out a partial emergency exercise in December 2020 while the full-scale emergency exercise was done in November 2022.

Despite the alarm caused, Mr Bamwesigye assured that the exercise was necessary to ensure the airport's preparedness for any potential emergencies.

He also noted a surge in passenger traffic and aircraft movements at Entebbe International Airport, with May 2024 recording 181,334 international passengers, a 28,324 increase from the same period in 2023.

“In May 2024, Entebbe Airport recorded 92,298 arrivals and 89,036 departures, a total of 181,334 international passengers which is an average of 5,849 per day. This follows a daily average of 5,313 in April 2024, 5,548 in March 2024, 6,116 in February 2024 and 6,329 in January 2024. A comparison of May 2024 to May 2023 traffic shows that the Airport facilitated 28,324 more passengers in May 2024 than in the same period of May 2023,” Mr Bamwesigye said.

In relation to cargo, imports were 2,442 metric tons and exports were 4,010metric tons in May 2024.