Panic as Entebbe Airport conducts emergency simulation drills

Entebbe airport staff during emergency simulation drills. PHOTOS/ COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • The two hour exercise that kicked off at about 11:15am involved simulation of a TIDA Airlines (pseudo name) flight with 250 passengers and crew on board. The exercise assumed that the flight was cleared to land at Entebbe International Airport’s runway 12/30, but on touch down, the aircraft “veered off the runway and caught fire.”

There was panic at Entebbe International Airport in Wakiso District and other parts of the country on Friday as staff underwent emergency simulation drills to test their readiness in case of any eventualities.
Officials from the airport said the drills were intended to establish whether their staff were capable of handling emergency situations such as fire accidents or plane crash.
The exercise is a mandatory requirement for international Airports of countries that are contracting member States of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) director general, Mr Fred Bamwesigye called for calm and said the exercise went according to plan, dispelling social media rumors that had started circulating claiming there had been a Uganda Airlines plane crash at the airport.
“There was a lot of scare and maybe you too thought it was real. Many people thought it was real and were asking whether we were under attack,” he said.
According to Bamwesigye, the drill helps airport officials identify gaps in their emergency preparedness with the aim of addressing them.

“When we are doing this we also discover certain gaps that we address. We are going to debrief between ourselves to see what may not have gone well that we need to improve so that incase a real situation happens these gaps don’t come back to haunt us,’’ he said.
He said fire drills is one of the many simulation exercises conducted at the airport.
“For example we test ourselves in other areas of security and safety, to see and criticize ourselves internally,” Mr Bamwesigye added.

The drill 
The two hour exercise that kicked off at about 11:15am involved simulation of a TIDA Airlines (pseudo name) flight with 250 passengers and crew on board. The exercise assumed that the flight was cleared to land at Entebbe International Airport’s runway 12/30, but on touch down, the aircraft “veered off the runway and caught fire.”

It was presumed that “30 people lost their lives” and “40 of the survivors were critically injured”, which sparked off an emergency situation involving airport fire-fighters and other rescue agencies that were called in to save lives.
The Uganda Civil Aviation Authority’s Fire Fighting and Rescue Services personnel put down the “ensuing fire” as medics from various hospitals were summoned and they promptly responded.
Several ambulances and medical staff went to the scene and “rescued” the victims. The “critically injured” were rushed to hospitals in Entebbe and Kampala.

Stakeholders that participated in the exercise include medics from various hospitals, Uganda Airlines, Port Health, Uganda Peoples Defense Air Force (UPDAF), MUNUSCO, Aviation Police, national security agencies, representatives from the various airlines, ground handling agents, volunteers who acted as injured passengers and UCAA staff, among others.
Uganda last conducted a full-scale emergency exercise in 2019. A partial emergency exercise was last held in December 2020.

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