Interconnecting Through ARFF

At Boston, planning, collaboration, and training are helping to set a new standard.


Instilling what Donahue calls "systems thinking" into all airport employees is key to the safety and security of the airport environment. "Everybody gets hired here, they put on the uniform, they're going to get their respective training, and then you put them on the line to work. There's nothing that causes or creates a systems thinking, so that you understand that you become part of the system when you put on that uniform and you are critical to the function and the purpose of this economic engine that we're all servicing."

Rather than reinvent the wheel, says Donahue, his staff implemented a pre-established and proven model in the aviation industry, CRM (crew resource management), as well as Community Oriented Policing (a nationwide program to reduce crime), which centers around the principles of partnerships, problem-solving, and prevention. "If we can develop the partnerships at every level, and you can forge this level of collaboration, and you can view yourself as a problem-solver, you can prevent things from happening," he explains.

One example of this is the deployment of 80 public access AEDs (automated external defibrillators) as part of an aggressive first aid "Life Saver Program." The target audience for the training: the 18,000 people that work at the airport. In the last several years, says Donahue, the airport has trained some 8,000 to 9,000 employees on the use of the devices. While the fire and emergency response department already has an established three-minute response time rate, the AEDs were placed throughout the terminal at 90-second response intervals. Employees are trained in CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). As a result, Boston Logan has the highest cardiac survival rate in Massachusetts.

This program also includes extensive outreach to Boston's medical and academic communities to make them aware that this technology is available at the airport. Public address announcements within the terminal also alert travelers to their presence.

Airfield Safety Program

An airside safety program has also been implemented at the airport. The group is a cross-section of the service systems on the ramp, including the refuelers, airline technicians, police, fire, operations, catering companies, and general ramp workers, and meets on a monthly basis. Some of the things that have grown out of this collaboration include the fire department developing a training program to augment what each party might be doing separately, which, again, contributes to systems thinking so that everyone "sees the airport in the same way," Donahue says.

The group has also established standards and best practices for operating on the ramp at Boston Logan. Explains Donahue, "FedEx might be doing something that might be the best practice that maybe JetBlue or Delta Air Lines didn't think about. It's a great information exchange." Most recently, the working group brought airfield lighting issues to the table and as a result, a study was launched and those issues were corrected.

Joint enforcement is another one of the group's responsibilities. "We make it very clear to them upfront that we will help them proactively, and hopefully, you're going to get it," Donahue says. "But if you don't get it, or can't get it, then there is a joint enforcement effort of the airport rules and regulations. There's a task force that's put together at unannounced and regular intervals where we team somebody from the fire department, the state police, and airport operations, and we blitz the ramp." And, where there are violations occurring, those offenders are ticketed. "All you have to do is buy into the program and do the right thing," adds Donahue. "You're a stakeholder; you make your living here."

In 2006, Boston Logan saw a 50 percent reduction in motor vehicle accidents on the ramp, and a 20 percent drop in the number of fuel spills. A self-inspection program of fire regulations has been developed for all the tenants.

Within the dynamic airport environment, threats are constantly changing and Donahue and his staff must be continually prepared to handle these changes. Terminal crisis management is a good example of this, he says. "Five or ten years ago, the only threat in the terminal was a fire." Today, threats are often much more complicated and can involve many more people. Boston Logan has developed a security plan for the terminal which involves compartmentalization of sections of the terminal and a three-step course of action.

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