Ahead of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) audit coming up in the first quarter of 2022, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has joined forces with critical stakeholders in aviation emergency rescue operations to conduct a live aeronautic simulation of an air crash at the Mafoluku area of Oshodi in Lagos, a few meters from Runway 18 Left and the local airport, Ikeja.
Code named “SAREXNAMA 2021,” the search and rescue exercise was focused on a disaster that could result from an air crash with mass casualty incident which requires a coordinated response from critical stakeholders saddled with the responsibility of managing aviation emergencies.
The mock air crash search and rescue exercise involved an aircraft with registration No. ZYMMM from Abuja to Accra. The aircraft diverted to Lagos due to electrical problem, and on board were 38 souls including 4 crew. 15 survivors were rescued while 23 others were unaccounted for.
Addressing participants at the end of the exercise, the convener of the scheme, Managing Director of NAMA, Capt. Fola Akinkuotu, expressed delight for the huge turnout by different agencies and stakeholders. The NAMA boss however noted that several gaps were observed during the exercise especially in the areas of coordination and response to alert, even as he assured that the agency would work assiduously with relevant stakeholders in order to close the said gaps.
Participants included all the aviation agencies, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Nigeria Air Force, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Nigeria Police, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Federal Fire Service, Lagos State Fire Service, Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), the Nigerian Red Cross, as well as Caverton Helicopters, among others.
The mock search and rescue operation is being coordinated by NAMA annually to test the procedures and communication between NAMA and other agencies involved in search and rescue and their collaboration; ascertain the prompt response of NAMA facilities and personnel to an incident, ascertain the preparedness of other agencies involved in the exercise and their response to alert as well as verify the operability of the joint rescue coordination center.
The exercise also seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of all functional elements of NAMA Search and Rescue systems and their collaboration with other organizations within and outside the airport in the event of an emergency.