Airport tests security

and emergency plan

By Caryn Ceolin, Grande Prairie Daily Herald-Tribune

If you heard a few loud crashes emanating from the Grande Prairie Airport Tuesday morning, it was nothing that should have been of worry.
The airport carried out a security exercise, in which the effectiveness of the airport’s emergency plan when handling the imminent threat of explosives on site was tested and assessed.
According to Ray Poirier, director of safety and security for the Grande Prairie Airport, the exercise, which was conducted by regulation, achieved all objectives.
“From first appearances, it looks like what we have established and have worked with is running fine,” Poirier said, as he read through notes made by corresponding agencies involved and during a debriefing that followed the exercise.
“We had invited the Edmonton bomb disposal team to come out, and explain and show us actual devices. They detonated a few of their devices and that was the three booms that residents would have heard coming from the airport.”
The capacity of participating airport attendees, who were joined by local RCMP, fire departments and emergency services, to recognize and disseminate an emergency of this nature, achieved positive results, Poirier said.
“We wanted to ensure that everyone would know what to do in that situation, and we were about to conclude that the table top exercise was very successful.”
While a number of topics were covered, which Poirier said could not be disclosed for security purposes, the potential of a bomb threat was the focus.
“Because we are an airport, it is one of the topics that we will discuss and review,” he said. “There’s always the chance that that activity could occur here, so we want to prepare for it accordingly.”
During the group discussion guided by the stimulated security emergency, Poirier said agencies had an opportunity to discuss possible improvement measures in furthering the level of security.
“When we do the table top portion we go through how everyone responded and how we all link together,” said Poirier. “If there’s any changes you want to make, we put those through procedures again and, in some cases, will redo the exercise.”
As of present time, Poirier said it didn’t appear as though the exercise would have to be reevaluated.
“When there’s any type of call out here, according to the protocol, these agencies will have to respond. It’s like somebody pulling the fire alarm, the fire department has to respond and even though I can say it was the little kid in the hallway, they have to come and verify for themselves,” he said.
“One of the bonuses of an exercise like this is that we’re all meeting each other not under stress, which is a big thing. And especially, it builds a good team. It went very well.”

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