ATL to host NTSB disaster response seminar

Filed in Employees, Events, News by on March 31, 2016

For the first time, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) will host a two-day NTSB conference designed to train the Airport community on how to prepare for a major aviation disaster, with particular emphasis on assisting victims and their families.

Already, 174 ATL stakeholders have signed up for the eight-session seminar, taught by Michael Crook with the National Transportation Safety Board’s Transportation Disaster Assistance Division. The conference will take place April 5-6 at the Georgia International Convention Center.

Although attendees will include members from local fire and law enforcement agencies, commercial airlines and support volunteer organizations, individuals from throughout the Department of Aviation are invited to enroll, said Gus Hudson, director of emergency management and communications at C4.

“It will be very helpful for everyone – all the stakeholders at the Airport – to know what to expect in the event that we have a plane crash,” said Hudson, who attended the conference last May outside Atlanta.

During the seminar, Hudson said, the instructor will devote a lot of attention to family assistance. He will guide Airport officials on how to prep and operate the facilities; to provide resources, from information to accommodations, for victims and their families; and to coordinate with organizations, from law enforcement to the American Red Cross to members of the clergy, following an aviation disaster.

“Normally, when we think about disaster response, we think of putting out fires and trying to save victims, but we don’t really account for individuals who show up who may have had loved ones on the plane,” Hudson said. “This seminar actually brings all that to reality, brings it to the surface, so you’re aware of what may happen, the additional impacts and constraints on your facility, and the resources that’s going to be required.”

Crook teaches this seminar throughout the United States. As the coordinator of NTSB’s Transportation Disaster Operations, he serves as the primary liaison to airports and air carrier emergency response and family assistance departments, helping airlines develop and implement family assistance plans and guiding U.S. commercial airports in creating programs to assist victims of an aviation disaster. Crook has responded to more than 14 aviation, highway, rail, pipeline and marine accidents while at the agency.

“Michael has responded to all the crashes in the U.S. commercially, so he speaks from a lessons-learned perspective,” said ATL’s Senior Operations Supervisor Tanna Almond, who helped plan the event.

Almond underscored that if a major crash happened at ATL, it will take the entire Airport community, as well as surrounding agencies, to assist victims, survivors and families while returning Hartsfield-Jackson to normal operations.

“It’s not just first responders and the airlines involved,” she said. “It impacts everyone.”

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