Bournemouth University’s Disaster Management Centre (BUDMC) has garnered decades of experience in education, research and professional practice.
It lists governments, international aid agencies and multi-national businesses among its clientele, and prides itself on the practical, applicable nature of the research, consultancy and training that it delivers. However, the findings from one training programme in Ghana were put into action in a timescale that even the most seasoned of experts could not have foreseen.
The exercise in question simulated a plane crash at Accra airport, and was designed to ensure the various organisations associated with disaster management were primed to respond to an emergency in a quick, safe and co-ordinated fashion.
This included the airport authorities, the police, the fire services, the military, local government and international embassies amongst others. After a successful training programme and de-brief, the value that BUDMC adds to disaster management preparations was demonstrated in dramatic fashion just a week later.
In heavy rain and poor visibility, a Boeing 727-200 crashed as it attempted to land, breaking through a perimeter fence and colliding with a packed minibus. In total, 12 people lost their lives, the deadliest accident in Ghanaian aviation history. However, it is a figure that would undoubtedly have been higher but for the swift response from the airport authorities, who were able to co-ordinate an heroically swift response from a variety of agencies to prevent an ever bigger tragedy.
BUDMC’s role in preparing the Accra authorities for such an eventuality drew praise from Ghana’s President and the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO), with the team’s advice being described as ‘invaluable’ by NADMO’s Head of Research.
Little wonder, then, that BUDMC enjoys a global reputation for disaster management. That’s why the centre (along with BU’s International Centre for Tourism & Hospitality Research) has been selected by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNTWO) to undertake vital research into global disaster management. While those findings will help agencies the world over to plan for the worst, one thing seems certain: few will ever have to put BUDMC’s advice into action quite as quickly as the brave souls who raced into action at Accra airport.
For further details about the centre, please see the Disaster Management Centre microsite.