EMERGENCY service providers in Victoria Falls had an opportunity to test their reaction time yesterday after receiving an aircraft plane crash alert, which later turned out to be a hoax.
Several fire tenders and ambulances from the Victoria Falls Municipality, hospital and private rescue operators swarmed the tarmac as early as 8am, where aviation officials had piled up tyres and started a huge fire.
Thick smoke billowed from the airport and could be seen from kilometres away, making residents believe that disaster had struck at the Victoria Falls International Airport.
The mock emergency rescue exercise was done to prepare rescue teams in the event of a crash as hundreds of travellers pass though the airport daily.
“When an emergency happens, seconds can mean a matter of life or death, first responders are training and implementing a plan for full scale terminal emergency.
“Each training exercise is different and challenges airport personnel to react without notice,” one rescue official said.
“This is a sober reminder of how tragic these events can be.
“It’s important for us to figure out what worked and what we can improve on, but due to lack of resources, we react slowly. We had to be given a lift by our bosses in their private cars as we did not have vehicles at the station when they called,” a police officer at the venue said.
Dozens of local volunteers stormed the airport while some waited along the highway.
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe manager Ronnie Masawi said he was too busy to share his assessments of the respondents.
“You called at the wrong time. You can talk to your colleagues, they can give you the information. I am too busy at the moment,” Masawi said yesterday.
Every three years, airports are required to run emergency scenarios putting their response plan to the test.