Aviation watchdog DGCA has issued guidelines to airports across the country on helping emergency responders cope with stress and fatigue. The advisory issued by Directorate General of Civil Aviation on aerodrome firefighters (ARFF), who fight fires in aircraft and airport buildings and assist in the evacuation of passengers, emphasizes that airports must observe “human factors” and incorporate them in emergency planning and training manuals. The DGCA has recommended that airports must have a treatment program for emergency responders, who may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders, in order to ensure their mental and psychological well-being. “Such treatment and counseling can be provided by other airport personnel who have undergone proper training or by external medical institutions,” says the advisory.
The guidelines also require airport operators to ensure that their staff can have adequate rest despite the nature of their job requiring them to rush for an emergency at short notice. The advisory recognizes noise levels at an airport as a health hazard and moots mandatory use of hearing protection devices as well as regular hearing tests. DGCA has also suggested a fitness program help personnel with their rigorous routine. The regulatory body has said that “human factors” should be kept in mind while designing rescue equipment and fire stations. Therefore, fire vehicles should be ergonomically designed so as to optimise human performance during security operations and fire stations should be located in such a manner that firefighters are able to meet the stipulated response time in the event of an aircraft emergency.
A DGCA source said the advisory is in keeping with the requirements of the International Civil Aviation Organisation, of which India is a member. “The last 10 years have witnessed mushrooming of several airports on PPP model. During this expansion ‘human factor’ was an area which was being neglected which we have now tried to address,” said the official.