Emergency plans for Cork Airport and the Jack Lynch Tunnel are currently being reviewed by Cork County Council.
The inter-agency emergency response plans are periodically reviewed, updated and exercised every four years.
The three Principal Response Agencies (PRAs); An Garda Síochána, The Health Service Executive and the Local Authorities, have joint Inter-Agency Emergency Response Plans for Cork International Airport and the Jack Lynch Tunnel to order to ensure a coordinated response in the event of an incident.
Both locations, which provide critical transport infrastructure for the region, were identified as sites where specific Inter-Agency Emergency Response Plans would be of assistance in the event of an incident.
Over the past few weeks, simulated incidents have been held at the two locations in order for services and staff to practise their emergency responses.
Sergeant Peter Murphy, who acted as Garda Controller of Emergency Operations for these events at the airport and at the tunnel over the past two weeks said that the exercises are vital to see how smoothly things do or don’t go.
“These exercises are very important in terms of learning new things and addressing basic things like where to send appliances, what are the meeting points, communication and radio interaction and the command structure, these are all things that on the day is not the day to realise they are not going well.”
Sgt Murphy said that the number one priority is public safety and the main things they are practising for are crashes, fires and spillages and getting help to incidents and casualties.
“One of the first things we do in the case of an emergency is to create and secure an open corridor with the Cork University Hospital (CUH) as soon as possible. That is our priority. The CUH is the only category five medical facility in the country which means there is a lot of top-notch care available there.”
Sgt Murphy said that the guidelines decided on mirror national and international safeguards and that the standard of emergency assistance at the airport and the tunnel are extremely high.
“The tunnel and the airport have two very robust systems in place in terms of safety checks on equipment, staff and training.
“Every now and again, something happens and we use these opportunities to look at the bigger picture and how we would handle a bigger emergency.”
Cork County Council said that when the review is completed the revised Plans will be approved by the Major Emergency Management Regional Working Group and circulated to each PRA and both facilities for use in response to an incident.