The National Emergency Management Agency partially activated its National Emergency Operations Centre on Wednesday, September 24, 2008, to assist the Nassau Airport Development Company Ltd (NAD) in its simulated plane crash exercise.

Dubbed “Operation Rescue” it was NAD’s biennial full-scale airport emergency exercise held at the Lynden Pindling International Airport.

Commander Stephen Russell, director of NEMA galvanized the core emergency support functions personnel, at the EOC in the event the airport became overwhelmed, had it been an actual tragedy. As a support agency NEMA’s role would be to also advise Cabinet on the situation at the airport.

The agencies represented in the drill also included the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the Public Hospitals Authority, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Bahamas Information Services.

The exercise involved a Raven Air 168, Dash-8 aircraft, which experienced mechanical problems en route from San Juan, Puerto Rico with 47 persons onboard. There were four crew members (three US citizens and one Bahamian); 43 passengers (four Haitians and 39 Bahamians).

As a result, 24 were confirmed dead inclusive of three crewmembers; 12 transported to hospital and 11 wounded (walked).

The airport remained operational throughout the exercise; runway 09 was closed, reported NAD. The drill concluded at about 12 noon Wednesday.