May 11, 2011
By Dan Namowitz
Harnessing the tremendous support resources that general aviation can provide in times of crisis will be one component of a planned disaster exercise to be run by the Department of Homeland Security May 13 through 17.
As part of the National Level Exercise, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on May 16 will run a simulation in which GA pilots respond to requests for aid after a mock earthquake along the New Madrid Seismic Zone, which touches eight states in the central United States.
AOPA will participate in the exercise by simulating contact with members and identifying those who could provide assistance in the form of GA aircraft, pilots, or supplies.
The simulated information would be forwarded to another exercise participant, AERObridge, an organization of aviation specialists who coordinate aviation responses by assisting governments and non-governmental organizations in the movement of personnel during disasters.
Acting in the role of aviation subject matter expert for the exercise from a master control room in Washington, D.C., will be Marianne Stevenson, president of AERObridge.
“Several AERObridge volunteers will coordinate with the Missouri FEMA Regional Response Coordination Center in Kansas City to provide general aviation insight and capability simulation,” said an announcement on the organization’s home page.
During the exercise, “AERObridge will be testing its internal processes and procedures,” the message said.
“Whenever disasters strike, AOPA members call in and ask how they can help with providing their own GA resources. There will now be a mechanism in place for GA to respond to the call for help,” said Tom Zecha, AOPA manager of aviation security.
Members can register their aircraft with AERObridge as available for actual emergency service in the future on the AERObridge website by clicking the “Join Us” tab.
Dan Namowitz is an aviation writer and flight instructor. He has been a pilot since 1985 and an instructor since 1990.
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