Heathrow Airport is one of the busiest international airports globally. Terminal 2 was re-opened in 2014 and currently handles around 16 million passengers. Singapore Airlines and Thai Airways operate the largest commercial jet out of this terminal, the Airbus A380, with a capacity of 507 Passengers and 27 crew members. It is highly complex in its operations with capacity limitations increasing considerably. Reduction in the Airport’s capacity can be brought about abruptly through various events such as a plane crash. In the event of reduced capacity, operational resilience is vital. An organizational strategy should be put in place to avoid, manage and recuperate from such disruptions. A mismanaged crisis can risk the years of development and value of the company in a very short period of time. In contrast, managing a crisis well shows the company is well prepared to tackle most of the issues that may arise from such events.2. IntroductionIn the event of an accident, having a well-organized Emergency Response Plan (ERP) is valuable, as it provides pre-determined processes and procedures to be followed by airport management/personnel and co-ordinates the efforts of all external service suppliers such as the Police, Airport Emergency Response Services, Medical Assistance and other parties. This is also one of the recommendations (SARPs) provided by ICAO within Annex 14 Chapter 9. The main objective of the ERP is to maximize the effect of the emergency services with the primary focus being the survivors, victims and families of the latter.The ERP should include the commanding structure which will be used in such events. The standard approach used is the Gold, Silver and Bronze Command, each with individual functions. Gold Command, being the strategic level, takes strategic decisions and directs the crisis management team. The CEO or an airport board member delegated takes the role of the Gold Commander. Silver Command, being the tactical level, takes the role of coordinating the emergency response, by giving directions to the Bronze Level Teams, communicating with airlines, emergency services, airport staff and other stakeholders. The Silver Command post should be an airport senior manager with financial decision authority. The Bronze Command, which is the operational level, is the response teams and should be situated in the Terminal and be commanded by the Terminal Duty Manager. 3. Emergency ResponseIn the event of an aircraft accident, the emergency response is initialised through an alert by the aircraft crew to the Air Traffic Control (ATC) prior to it landing (pro-active) or if not, the response starts post-accident (reactive). The Airport Emergency Response Plan is activated and Emergency Services take charge of the site, with the primary goal of saving and protecting life. Depending on the conditions on the crash site, a casualty collecting point could be set up next to the site and from here, casualties transported to the Triage Area. Within the Triage Area, casualties are sorted and classified into four different groups: Priority 1: Immediate care. Persons with life-threatening injuries. These are the first to be taken care of and sent to the hospital.Priority 2: Delayed Care. Persons who have injuries but treatment can be delayed until the Priority 1 patients have been cleared. These as well are transported to the hospital.Priority 3: Minor Care: Persons who are not injured or minor injuries which can move to the Holding Area of the Triage Area and await transportation to the Survivors Reception Centre.Priority 4: Deceased. The bodies of the victims will be transported to the mortuary from here. All survivors will then need to be transferred to the Survivors Reception Area where they will be processed and identified. Following successful identification, the survivors are then reunited with their families and friends in the Reunion area. Table 1 Post Accident Survivors and Victims Pathway4. Resources and TrainingThe occurrence of aviation accidents is luckily rare. Unfortunately, though, this results in in-experience of people in charge of such events when they happen, as few would have had the chance to deal with a real crisis. Knowing where the plan is, the steps, processes and procedures to be followed following such an event, is not adequate enough. This leads to the requirement of having a specific team of people comprehensively trained and familiar with all that is characteristic of a crisis.The role of Gold, Silver and Bronze Commander should not be automatically given to a senior figure, but instead, the on-duty availability and qualifications of these key positions need to be established. Senior airport personnel should be trained in activating and operation of the ERP. Before assuming the role, the personnel need to be formally trained by a recognised institution and can demonstrate awareness of the procedures and authority levels as mentioned in the Emergency Response Plan. All airport personnel are likely to have to deal with a crisis situation in their line of duty. Therefore, it is recommended to have yearly training on crisis management carried out to all staff with a separate group of staff, who voluntarily, are specifically trained to take the different responsibilities mentioned in the ERP organizational structure. This training should be strengthened with frequent and suitable exercises such as simulations which might range from a simple tabletop to full-blown exercises with personnel deployed and other response agencies included. The International Civil Aviation Organization Annex 13 (ICAO, 2016), obliges airports to carry out a full-scale crisis management exercise every two years, which should involve the largest aircraft servicing that airport. In addition, any event which triggers the activation of the ERP should be reviewed and treated as an opportunity for training, with a post-event debrief given to members of the crisis management team.5. Facilitiesa. Airport Command Centres In 2014, Heathrow Airport opened an operations centre called APOC (Airport Operations Centre) to monitor and manage the airport. It is the ideal location identified as the Silver Command Centre, as it has full visibility and it can provide the right and timely information enabling effective decisions to be made by the Crisis Director. Several airlines, the National Air Traffic Services (NATS), Government Agencies such as Border Force and the Metropolitan Police are also part of this centre adding important and vital information that might be required during a crisis. Figure 1 Source: http://your.heathrow.com/at-the-heart-of-heathrow-apoc/ The Bronze Command Centre should be located around terminals 2A and 2B, in the respective Duty Manager’s offices. The Gold Command Centre, on the other hand, should be placed in the Boardroom/meeting room of the CEO Office.b. Survivor Reception CentreThe Survivor Reception Centre is a safe place where survivors are brought together to be interviewed and documented. This should be set up at a safe distance from the incident site and away from the prying eyes of the media and public. Access to this centre should be limited to the special assistance team and border control. The remote stand is ideal to be set up to accommodate this centre and should be reviewed for adequate resources such communications, refreshments and anything which might support the survivors’ well being. c. Family and Friends Reception Centre (FFRC)Although the responsibility of assisting the families is under the responsibility of the airline, the airport crisis management team requires helping establish the family and friends reception centre (FFRC). The purpose of the FFRC is to provide a safe environment, where the special assistance team (Bronze Team) can look after the needs of the families of the survivors and victims’ involved, mainly by providing relevant information and assist in other arrangements. The setup of such a reception centre and the activation plan should be stated in the Emergency Response Plan. One of the sites identified for this purpose is at Level 1 of the Arrivals Gate in Terminal 2, specifically the Arrivals and Plaza Premium Lounges. Figure 2 Source: https://www.heathrow.com/file_source/Heathrow/Static/PDF/Transport_and_directions/Heathrow_T2_Map.pdf.6. Humanitarian Care ContractsThe shock and grief experienced by people involved in tragic circumstances events may not be understood by the majority, who have never experienced such events. The bravest of persons can appear unscathed by the event, but at a later stage can collapse with all sort of mental issues. All people involved, ranging from survivors, relatives, those who provide first assistance at the site, those who deal with deceased, the survivors’ assistants, those who deal with families and friends, will themselves convert into victims suffering from shock and trauma to various levels. Therefore, the need to provide access to counselling at the start of any event should be established as part of the Airport’s ERP.A variety of counselling needs will vary from one event to another. These can be provided through humanitarian care contracts with organizations who provide such services. One of these organizations established already at Heathrow Airport is Heathrow Travel Care, an independent charity organization who cater for such events.7. External Service ProvidersFinding the right balance, between creating services that might be used only in a crisis and having everything possible to handle any crisis is quite an achievement. Establishing contracts with external service providers, that can be used in a short notice, supports the organization to be prepared in the event of a crisis. Identifying in advance services required enhances the effort that will be provided by the organization. Such services might include, but may not be limited to, counselling services, accommodation, transportation services, food and beverage suppliers, funeral services, professional crisis management organizations, public relation organizations, call centre providers, 8. SummaryA crisis is an event which is clearly unforeseen and may result in human lives being put at risk of trauma and in some cases, death. In any such event, the protection of life is the number one priority with all efforts focused on this. The risk of such events can be minimized but never removed, hence the airport, as an organization, needs to be well prepared to minimize the effects caused on its customers and employees. The effects may be felt for years after an event. Having a well-prepared plan supported by the organization’s leadership has been proven to be an effective means to successfully manage such crisis.