There was pandemonium in the Oworonsoki area of Lagos yesterday following a false helicopter crash alert.
Security operatives and locals in the community thronged the Mayaki street axis of the Lagos lagoon, after a rumour went round that there was a plane crash in the same place a Bristow helicopter wrecked some months back.
But Director, Search and Rescue of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) debunked the rumour, calming frayed nerves.
He stated that the agency and other relevant emergency stakeholders were carrying out a simulation exercise on air mishap.
The exercise which started at about 9am, saw the reliving of an air mishap, to get the rescue workers abreast with recent trends in managing such scenarios in real life.
The exercise started by a communication from the Airspace Management Authority (NAMA) that an aircraft has gone missing.
Shortly after then, there was a radio message in the control room that an aircraft has crashed at Oworonsoki, putting all the officers who were oblivious of the exercise on their toes.
All the field emergency responders moved to the scene of the supposed accident, with these nearest to the crash site trooping in with their equipments.
As they moved in, they discovered it was an exercise, so, did the residents in the community, and that eventually calmed frayed nerves.
The participating agencies included Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), the Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Nigeria Police, the Nigerian Navy, Fire Service, Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) and Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC).
Explaining why field operators and locals were not notified about the simulation, NEMA’s director of Search and Rescue, Air Vice Martial Charles Otegbade said the aim would have been defeated if the field operators knew it was an exercise.
He however disclosed that the various heads of the participating agencies knew it was an exercise, adding that the field operators were not told as they wanted to monitor their response to such situations.
Otegbade expressed satisfaction as the speed and efficiency of the various agency, noting that their coordination was 80 percent successful.
Similarly, LASEMA boss, Micheal Akindele said the exercise was to assess the level of preparedness and identify gaps of emergency responders in the case of plane crash or related emergency in the State.