Freeport, The Bahamas, October 26, 2015 – Safety week at the Grand Bahama Airport Company (GBAC) consisted of numerous initiatives, one of which included an emergency drill led by the Grand Bahama Airport Company on Wednesday, October 21st, 2015. The drill which was organized by the Safety and Training department of the GBAC was in keeping with measures aimed to ensure that key agencies dealing with cases of emergency are able to test their plans of action and their ability to work in a cohesive manner. The ultimate goal is to allow each agency to build on their recognized strengths and addressing any identified opportunities.
The Emergency Drill which involved 75 to 100 individuals was based on the scenario of a threat to public health arriving at one of our ports of entry. Its intent was to test how responders from the various agencies would react to the threat with a view to ensuring that once the problem was identified, the requisite agencies were contacted to initiate their respective response plans, the affected persons contained to a designated area to prevent potential spread of sickness, appropriate medical care was administered and decontamination activities carried out; and, to ensure that air traffic services remained uninterrupted with GBAC customers, employees and tenants kept safe at all times.
The sequence of events conducted got underway shortly after 10:30am attracting a cross sector of emergency units. The following agencies were active participants in the exercise: Grand Bahama Airport Company, Bahamas Immigration Department, Bahamas Customs, Public Hospitals Authority, Royal Bahamas Police Force, Ministry of Tourism, Grand Bahama Port Authority, National Emergency Management Agency and the Civil Aviation Department. Also present in an observer capacity were personnel from the Bahamas Red Cross, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and American Airlines, Silver Airways and Bahamasair.
CEO of GBAC, FCP and FHC Godfrey Smith was among those witnessing the combined dynamics of relied upon emergency teams. According to Smith, “It is important that safety continues to be highlighted in our line of business. In any eventuality we must always be prepared to respond to emergency conditions in an effective and efficient manner, as there are lives that will depend on the action we take. The working relationship with our counterparts in such instances must therefore be on one accord.”
The emergency drill held was the first for the GBAC this year as the three companies within Hutchison Port Holdings Ltd., are mandated to carry out full scale emergency drills annually to maintain their international safety and security certifications. Additionally, there are smaller scale drills that are held throughout the year by each company along with continuous in depth training involving employees who are given the task of overseeing areas of safety.
According to Smith, “Safety will always remain our priority and measures to ensure that we are on top of industry standards undoubtedly, our focus.”
The drill was followed by a meeting consisting of key participants and observers analyzing the day’s events with the aim of developing new strategies if necessary, introducing areas that may have been missed and discussing possible corrective action measure to strengthen weaknesses for similar exercises to be carried out in the future.
The Grand Bahama Airport Company, Freeport Container Port and Freeport Harbour companies are all certified to the Occupational Health and Safety Management System 18001 (OHSAS) Standard.