THE MAGAZINE

Chicago’s Big Security Shoulders

By Teresa Anderson

Other core capabilities that were tested were on-site incident management and tactical operations. The issues involved everything from how to contact the NTSB to how to deal with grieving relatives and give guidance to first responders.

Another issue was public information. During the chaos, Iberia personnel who were on the scene had to have a process for contacting public information personnel at headquarters and making sure that everyone involved with talking to the media was putting out a unified message about the incident.

Given the nature of the scenario, there were injuries. This meant working with a hospital coordinator to conduct emergency triage and to obtain hospital transport. “If there are mass injuries, the hospital coordinator sends victims to various hospitals to balance the load,” says Dacey. “Someone needs to be in contact with hospitals to make sure they are ready.”

Because there were casualties assumed to have occurred in this scenario, the medical examiner was also invited to participate.

While stakeholders were conducting the exercise, Dacey was working to make it as realistic and, therefore, as stressful as possible. To this end, Dacey created a list of activities that were going on around the airport before, during, and after the mishap. For example, he told participants that the fire department was not readily available because it was responding to an incident elsewhere, and police were responding to a man with a knife at the terminal, explains Dacey.

He also turned the telephone ringers to the highest level and added flashing lights around the room. “The noise and lights create the havoc that would be present in a real emergency,” he says. “People must still focus on what they have to do.”
 
These extra distractions also give all members of the team something to do. For example, an unrelated water-main break might mean that maintenance personnel have to split their crew and provide fewer people for the disaster. This puts pressure on the police and fire officials to do more with less. “This is what you want,” says Dacey, “to learn how people work together under stress.”

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