When smoke billowed out of a truck loaded with chemicals in SOHAR Port late last week the people observing it were not panicking, but were instead making careful notes on their clipboards.
They were professional observers taking part in a so-called Multidisciplinary Tier 2 Field Exercise in coordination with Safety Region Rotterdam, SOHAR Port’s strategic partner for safety management.
The incident was a very lifelike simulation of a complex situation that included a truck on fire loaded with chemicals, multiple injuries, and civilians trapped on the roof of a burning building.
The first responders included teams from the Public Authority for Civil Defence and Ambulance (PACDA), Royal Oman Police, Orpic, Vale Oman, SIUCI, OMC, Jindal Shadeed, Larsen & Toubro, Oman PESCo, as well as local volunteer diving teams.
Organised regularly by the Health, Safety, Security and Environment (HSSE) team at SOHAR Port and Freezone, crisis management exercises like these aim to build closer cooperation in the field between Oman government resources like PACDA, and the various private companies located in SOHAR Port and Freezone.
Many of the tenant companies in the port support their own emergency response fire and ambulance teams. Regular training is the only way to ensure a smooth response, should a genuine emergency ever arise at SOHAR, when lives are at stake and every second counts.
After a professional post-event debriefing session, Mark Geilenkirchen, SOHAR CEO, commented: “In a port like SOHAR, we’re confronted with a great many combustible materials and chemicals which didn’t even exist just a few decades ago.
“Modern fires tend to burn hotter and faster and our response crews need to not only understand a great deal of science, but must also work together closely in order to fight them correctly.
“Field training simulations like this one help to ensure that we can protect the many thousands of people working directly here in the port and living in our surrounding communities. Safety is and always will be our overriding priority at SOHAR,” he added.