Enabling disaster preparedness across airports

Airport operations professionals from across India have gathered at Calicut International Airport for a five-day training on making their airports disaster-prepared and also to become national trainers for GARD (get airports ready for disaster) workshops in the country.

The Deutsche Post DHL Group (DPDHL), the German mail and courier service company, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) are jointly conducting the pilot project towards enabling disaster preparedness across airports in India.

The GARD programme is being conducted with officials and experts from the Airports Authority of India (AAI).

125 airports

The AAI manages a total of 125 airports – 21 international airports, 8 customs airports, 77 domestic airports and 19 civil enclaves at military airfields. It also has ground installations at all airports and 25 other locations to ensure safety of aircraft operations.

India is one of the countries that are at above average risk for natural disasters. So training local authorities in special customs and immigration policies that need to be activated in the event of emergency, and having passenger evacuation plans or accommodation at the airport for the first 72 hours is highly required. So far, Guwahati and Chennai airports are already GARD-trained and thus prepared to handle emergencies better.

A statement said here that the training was conceived to evaluate the current level of preparedness at airports, conduct training exercises, and develop specific recommendations and ready an action plan to ensure that airports are prepared for disasters. The new initiative allows airports to conduct the GARD training when it suits the regional needs best – that makes the roll out much more flexible.

To ensure fast and effective assistance in the immediate aftermath of a natural or man-made disaster, besides having the necessary airport infrastructure and local transport connections to smoothly deliver lifesaving support to impacted communities, the team on site needs to be trained in the necessary protocols and know-how to handle the dramatic rise in air traffic and flow of goods and people that typically follows a disaster.

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