What does it take to ensure a thorough Emergency Response Plan is in place within your Flight Department? Even if you keep to the highest safety standards within your operation, Mario Pierobon explains why you need to be prepared for the worst…
Flight Department Emergency Planning
What does it take to ensure a thorough Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is in place within your Flight Department? Mario Pierobon offers advice…
Although the overall aim of safety management is to avoid emergency situations from occurring, Flight Departments are expected to perform at their very best even when such circumstances do occur. Thus, corporate Flight Departments have an obligation to arrange Emergency Response Plans (ERP) as part of their Safety Management System (SMS).
Planning is about anticipating the possible scenarios and developing operating procedures that can be easily and clearly followed under those scenarios.
The aim is to minimize the opportunity for additional damage and seamlessly return the department to normal operations.
Emergency management complements what pilots already do as they learn to handle abnormal and emergency procedures. While the immediate aspects of an emergency are managed by the line operatives closest to the event (by means of emergency operating procedures), the wider organizational aspects are covered by the ERP.
These may include items such as:
ERP Best Practices
When developing an ERP there are a few best-practices that corporate Flight Departments should consider and embed in the plans themselves. The first is to plan well in advance.
The ERP is a living document; it is not to be authored and filed away until needed. It should be periodically updated, based on any applicable learning experience stemming from the line environment.
The ERP should feature all foreseeable scenarios that may need to be handled during an emergency situation, ideally in sequential fashion. It should also detail the procedures to be followed under an emergency. It should be pointed out, however, that every emergency situation is different and thus the emergency procedures should allow flexibility to adjust to the actual situation.
Bringing the ERP to Life
The planning is only one part of the ERP. The other important part is the operational readiness that’s needed. One way to ensure operational readiness is to run simulations, creating an artificial scenario from those anticipated in the ERP manual and having the employees learn how to behave, per the applicable plans.
The employees should be assessed on their performance in the simulation, details of their proficiency in managing the emergency situations should be recorded and simulations performed recurrently to ensure people remain current in their emergency response management abilities.
Taking care of the wellbeing of employees should be among the main items to accomplish in an emergency situation. This activity is performed in many different ways, since there are many ways employee wellbeing can be compromised in an emergency.
This importantly should include consideration of the immediate logistics of recovering traumatised employees from a place or a situation of distress. Likewise, employee wellbeing concerns dealing with the possible trauma suffered by staff after the event.
And finally, managing the media during an emergency is also vital. Flight Departments experiencing an emergency may have to deal with all sorts of media, ranging from local to national media and from general readership to industry publications and websites.
Regardless of the type of questions or concerns raised by the media, it’s important that a minimum protocol is followed that includes timely addressing all inquiries. When dealing with the media it is also important that all answers come from individuals who have a managerial role, and that these persons are capable of conveying a sense of genuine concern for those involved in the emergency event.
Readiness to handle an emergency is an important safety function, and although it is hoped you will never have to utilize it, the leading corporate Flight Departments carefully prepare an ERP in case of emergency.