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What Airports Need in Case of Emergency

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Airports are major hubs of travel and commerce. Not only do thousands of people pass through them every day but so do millions of pounds of consumer goods shipped from one place to another by air. To an observer, an airport may look like pure chaos, but there is an order behind it all. Nevertheless, emergencies can happen at airports, whether they be medical emergencies, terrorist attacks, plane crashes, etc. Airports need special equipment to be prepared in the event of a wide range of dangerous events.

Fire Mitigation

When most people think of fires at airports, they probably think of a plane crash. It is true that if a plane crashes, the fuel could ignite, and fire mitigation personnel and equipment are required at the scene as soon as possible to help extinguish the fire as part of rescue and recovery efforts.
However, a fire can take place inside the airport too. In the process, it could threaten lives, injure people, and cause property damage. Fire damage restoration comes later, but to control the initial flames, airports need sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers placed strategically around the facility. There also needs to be a system of clearly marked fire exits so that people can escape the fire and prevent injuries and loss of life.

First Aid

A medical emergency can occur anywhere and at any time, including at an airport. The facilities therefore need first aid equipment to cope with medical complaints ranging from the relatively minor to the potentially life-threatening. One piece of life-saving equipment that no airport should be without is an automated external defibrillator. When someone's heart has stopped beating normally, an AED can deliver an electrical shock to the heart that starts it up again. An external defibrillator works without coming into direct contact with the heart, as opposed to an internal defibrillator which requires a surgical incision to open up the chest and touch the electrodes to the heart. An automated defibrillator can detect the issue and deliver the right amount of electricity.

Other important first aid supplies that airports should have available in case of a life-threatening emergency include CPR face shields to prevent the spread of disease and tourniquets to stop the bleeding in case of limb amputation or a severed artery. Airport personnel should have access to personal protection equipment in compliance with universal precautions, such as latex gloves, facemasks, and eye protection.


If there is an emergency in an airport, it may be necessary to prevent planes from taxiing or taking off, to prevent vehicles from driving around the tarmac, or to prevent pedestrians from entering certain areas. Airports should have safety barriers for each of these areas to control the movements of people and planes. These barriers should be orange, a bright, noticeable color generally used to indicate that caution is required. They may also be equipped with flags or lights to attract people's attention.


Airports are very large and in an emergency situation, the personnel in charge should be able to communicate the situation to one another, give instructions, and request assistance. Therefore, they need a reliable means of communication that cannot be compromised. Walkie-talkies are probably preferable to cell phones because they have to be tuned to a specific frequency to work. They do not connect to the internet and cannot be misdialed.

Procedures and Training

It is not just equipment that airports need to cope with an emergency. They also need emergency procedures in place to follow if something goes wrong. This helps them to keep control of a situation in which people might otherwise panic. Airport staff should receive extensive training on the procedures so that everyone knows what to do if an emergency situation does arise.
Emergencies at an airport can be either natural or manmade. As the past few decades have shown, all the people, vehicles, and cargo coming and going can make an airport a soft target for a terrorist attack. Fortunately, airports have diligently looked for ways to be safer in light of the ongoing threats.

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