President's Perspective: Plan, Prepare, Practice

Emergency exerciseSafety and security is at the core of everything we do at Vancouver International Airport.  Not only do we have a comprehensive emergency plan in place to help us react quickly and effectively in the event of an emergency, but we also test these plans periodically to ensure that Airport Authority staff and our other partner agencies are as prepared as possible. 

If you are near YVR on April 17, you may notice our full-scale emergency exercise taking place in the morning.  This exercise involves more than 500 participants from multiple agencies and is shaping up to be one of the largest exercises ever staged at YVR. The goal? To activate our plan during a live exercise setting and see what we can learn.

During a crisis, the first few minutes are essential to setting the response. Our Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) will activate momentarily after the exercise incident is announced, and the EOC will have the challenging task of gathering, evaluating and disseminating information as it becomes available.  We also know how important it is to ensure that accurate and timely information is shared with the public. With the advent of social media and the increased sharing of photos and information via mobile phones, it is essential that we work with our partners to communicate what is happening to the public as quickly as possible. While ten minutes may seem like a short amount of time in our daily operations, we know that this time feels like an eternity for a friend, family or loved one waiting for information in an emergency situation. We are constantly working to refine to process to get timely communications to the people who need it the most.

Our Emergency Exercise committee involves representatives from more than 25 different agencies, including Air Canada, Canada Coast Guard, Richmond RCMP, Richmond Fire Rescue, Canada Border Services Agency, Vancouver Coastal Health, City of Richmond and more.  The team has been meeting for over a year to ensure that this simulation is as life-like as possible.  This includes applying make-up to volunteers playing injured passengers, hiring people to simulate mock media, engaging as many partner agencies to ensure an accurate response and only sharing a few details in advance with the staff who are participating.

I want to thank all volunteers and participating agencies as well as our own team at the Airport Authority for your hard work in advance of this important full-scale exercise.  I sincerely hope that an emergency of this simulated scale never occurs. However, I know that YVR and our partners will be better-prepared in the event of any emergency because of your teamwork on April 17.

 

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