Under the patronage of His Excellency Mr. Ghazi El-Aridi, UNDP and DHL launched the preparedness training program “Get Airports Ready for Disaster” (GARD) which took place at the Beirut Rafic Hariri International Airport on 9 July 2012. The GARD training program was launched in the presence of Mr. Robert Watkins, UNDP Resident Representative and Mr. Henry Chedid, DHL Express Lebanon Country Manager.
Lebanon is the fourth country to receive the GARD training which has been successfully rolled out in Indonesia, Nepal and Bangladesh. The four-day program focused on training 31 participants, including airport sta as well as local and government officials to assess local requirements and create detailed contingency plans. The GARD Program was developed between the UNDP and DHL in 2009 to train airport personnel, local security officials and representatives of national disaster agencies in airport logistics management. GARD grew out of first-hand experience that showed just how important it is for disaster-prone regions and airports to be disaster-ready and be able to respond quickly and eectively to the challenges of disaster relief logistics.
This simulation is the first exercise to test the developed response plans in general. In particular, the simulation aims to test and evaluate the methods of communication between the different concerned agencies and coordination between the different operation rooms such as the national operations room, the army command operations room, disaster management operations room at the airport, the operations room at the civil defense and Lebanese red cross during the response, reception, unloading, storage and distribution of foreign aid.
It is worth noting that the simulation wasl be implemented simultaneously at Rafic Hariri international Airport and Riyak air base in cooperation with the Lebanese army, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, airport security, the Directorate General of Customs, service and freight companies at the airport, Civil Defense, the Lebanese Red Cross and Beirut Fire Brigade. Finally, the importance of this simulation lies in the shift of work from theoretical to practical and the lessons learnt that help participants to assess and evaluate the situation leading to better and more effective decision making. Moreover, the simulations help in developing plans to increase the effectiveness of concerned response agencies during disasters and crisis.