By Denis Connolly
AT any airfield, big or small, it’s always common sense practice to be ready for the unexpected.
As Bantry is a licensed airfield, the licence regulations laid down by the Irish Aviation Authority require an emergency exercise to be carried out every two years to test and document the response and actions of the emergency services.
Recently, pilot Ian O’Brien flew his Europa aircraft from Cork to Bantry to take part in the exercise.
As he landed, he was met by three fire tenders under the command of fire chief Ian Vickery, two ambulances from Bantry General Hospital, and a Red Cross ambulance.
Pilot O’Brien then took off, accompanied by a female ‘casualty’ Bernie O’Mahony.
Bernie, an employee of Rowa Pharmaceuticals, had volunteered to play the casualty and some minutes after take-off, the pilot reported back to the airfield that he had hit severe turbulence and his passenger was complaining of back pain and he wished to make an emergency landing.
On receiving the call, the message was relayed to the ambulance and fire service at the field who waited for the plane to land.
On landing, the fire tenders rushed to the plane and, when it came to a stop, stood by with fire hoses in the event of tyres igniting due to the hard landing.
The ambulance crews which had followed the plane, moved in with a spinal board and other medical devices to attend to the ‘casualty’.
With the casualty extracted, she was placed on a cushioned stretcher and made ready for ambulance transfer.