Airport Business

MAY 2018

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AOA MATTERS By Charity Catalfomo Engaging Airport Mutual Aid Partners A key component to strength and resiliency of operations at an airport is a cooperative and functional relationship with the surrounding communities. Being a good neighbor includes engagement of discussion about airport noise, land use and mutual aid resources that might be requested during an emergency. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) under guidance for airport emergency plans defines "mutual aid" as "reciprocal assistance by emergency services under a predetermined plan." Strong mutual aid relationships with first responders including fire, police and medical are wise investments at an airport. An incident or emergency at an airport has the potential to quickly overwhelm emergency response resources allocated to that facility. When this happens, airports must rely on neighboring jurisdictions for resource requests in order to address life safety and ensure continuity of operations. Similar to any strong and resilient relationship, each partner in a mutual aid relationship must contribute and benefit mutually from the arrangement. Because the FAA outlines specific regulations for aircraft rescue firefighters including response time, specialized equipment and training, airports are often unable to routinely send fire resources off-airport to assist neighboring jurisdictions without negatively affecting aircraft operations. Airports that regularly request mutual aid fire resources may not be routinely able to return the favor, therefore careful consideration must be given to how the "mutual" portion of mutual aid can be carried out effectively. In order for mutual aid relationships to be successful, airports must think outside of the box to engage partners. What are your mutual aid partners' needs and common goals? Do you have specialty equipment or resources that may be shared? Can airports organize drills that dually address the training requirements of their mutual aid partners? Does your airport have facilities that may be offered up for training to your mutual aid partners? Common issues that arise with mutual aid relationships may include liability, politics, jurisdictional disagreements, funding and command/control issues. These questions and issues must be cooperatively analyzed, answered and communicated as a groundwork to functional mutual aid plans as local cooperation between resources is extremely powerful to address continuity of operations in the face of an emergency. Fire departments, both on and off an airfield, dedicate extensive time and resources to training and compliance. There is certainly wisdom in jurisdictions collaborating for purposes of training to offset the costs of developing and coordinating emergency response. Local governments are nearly consistently constrained by resources. Costs associated with developing and providing Charity Catalfomo 40 airportbusiness May 2018

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