By Robert Silk
One year after a man went on a shooting
rampage in Florida’s Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport (FLL), killing five and
injuring six, a push for laws requiring more
emergency training of airport employees is
Last month, the Broward County Commission, which runs the Fort Lauderdale
airport, instructed the county’s legal team
to draft an ordinance that would require all
airport workers to receive emergency training even if they aren’t first responders.
Fort Lauderdale isn’t alone. Also in December, the city of Los Angeles required all
contractors at Los Angeles Airport (LAX)
to provide employees 16 hours of paid
emergency-response training annually.
The ordinance applies to forward-facing
workers, such as baggage handlers, porters, wheelchair attendants, janitors and
door security guards. With its passage, LAX
became the first airport in the country to
require paid emergency training on that
scale, according to the Service Employees
International Union (SEIU).
On another front, a proposal making its
way through the Massachusetts legislature,
which overseas Boston Logan Airport, calls
for all service-facing airport workers to receive 40 hours of paid emergency training.
The proposals are the early successes
of a lobbying push by the SEIU on behalf
of rank-and-file airport workers, many of
whom work not for the airports themselves
but for airport contractors.
One worker behind the SEIU effort is
Melifaite Cine, who was cleaning the inside
of a Delta aircraft parked at FLL on Jan. 6,
2017, when the shooting took place near
the baggage claim in Terminal 2.
Cine didn’t hear the gunshots, but when
he emerged from the plane he saw panic.
“I saw people screaming, running, asking, ‘Where are we going?’” he recalled in
a recent interview.
“I didn’t have an
answer. We don’t
have a designated
place to go.”
later, Cine said,
little has changed.
“If something like that were to happen
again, I still don’t know where to lead the
people,” he said.
The proposal that SEIU is backing around
the country, as well as the new law in Los
Angeles, would address such concerns. The
mandatory training won’t be geared toward
first response, said Jon McDuffie, an emer-
gency management consultant and a former
Los Angeles firefighter who is consulting
with SEIU. That’s the territory of public
safety workers and law enforcement.
But the training should give airport staffers the tools to avoid sowing additional panic
as an incident is occurring and to handle an
incident’s aftermath, when chaos reigns and
airport customers don’t know what to do.
At Fort Lauderdale last year, for example,
many people ended up stuck inside airplanes on the tarmac for several hours, only
to eventually disembark to find disorder
within the terminal.
“What many people confuse is the actual
incident with the event,” McDuffie said. “At
you had the inci-
dent, which lasted
a few minutes, but
the event lasted 12
of the training at
LAX, he said, are still being determined, but
a pilot program teaches workers such things
as the airport’s evacuation routes, how to
perform basic first aid, how to direct and
assist people as they go through the airport
and how to help people shelter in place.
“What it gives these employees are the
skills to do the right thing and to do what
the customers, the passengers, have expectations they’ll do, ” McDuffie said.
The training isn’t just geared toward
shootings, he said. It would cover all manner of emergencies, including power outages like the one that caused chaos at Atlanta’s
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport last month as
well as disruptive political demonstrations,
weather emergencies, problems on the tarmac or runway and traffic incidents that
snarl roadways to the airport.
Most airport workers, McDuffie acknowledged, do already receive some sort of
limited training. Cine, for example, said that
after being hired, he underwent 90 minutes
of safety training that dealt with matters
such as self-protection, cleaning chemical
spills and protecting secured doorways.
Adrian Madaro, the Boston-based legislator who sponsored the 40-hour training bill
in Massachusetts, said he’s received similar
reports from workers at Logan Airport.
“Those folks do not feel adequately
trained,” he said. “It’s about safety for workers, but also about safety for passengers.”
The bill passed out of the House Transportation Committee in September, and Madaro
is bullish about its prospects for passage before the end of the legislative session on July
31, saying it has encountered little opposition.
“It’s sound policy, and I do believe that
what LAX is doing will be consistent at air-
ports across the country,” he said. “I want to
make Logan one of the next ones.”
Bills would expand emergency training of airport employees
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Training could give airport staffers
the tools to avoid sowing additional
panic as an incident is occurring
and to handle the aftermath.
By Tom Stieghorst
In Bar Harbor, Maine, an advisory
panel recently recommended against
building a pier for cruise ships amid
concerns about congestion, pollution
and preserving the waterfront for other
Meanwhile, in the Texas resort town
of South Padre Island, the city council
approved spending $100,000 on a campaign to attract cruise ships.
The two developments demonstrate
the range of attitudes toward the cruise industry in small-town America.
Many towns are eager to use the revenue
that cruise ships bring to offset municipal
taxes and pay for services. But some are reluctant to bring large ships and big passenger populations into their midst.
“We need a booming economy to have
the services that a lot of people want, but
they don’t like the people that come along
with that,” said Paul Paradis, a hardware
store owner and chairman of the town
council in Bar Harbor.
Both Bar Harbor and South Padre Is-
land have small permanent populations
— 5,348 and 2,816, respectively. Both swell
with visitors in the summer. But Bar Har-
bor has an established cruise business.
This year, Bar Harbor expects calls
from 163 cruise ships bringing about
180,000 visitors between April and November. Since 2007, the town has been
studying how and whether to expand
In 2012, prompted by the 2009 discontinuation of ferry service to Nova
Scotia, the town commissioned a cruise
marketing study from Bermello Ajamil
& Partners. Among the study’s conclusions: the trend toward larger ships in
the Canada/New England market would
continue, and those ships likely will not
call at ports that lack piers.
Bar Harbor is Maine’s busiest cruise
port, offering both a quaint New Eng-
land town experience and access to Acadia
National Park. All but the smallest cruise
ships anchor offshore and tender pas-
sengers. But cruise ships have to skip calls
sometimes because high winds prohibit
Building a deep-water pier at the site
of the disused ferry terminal would cost
between $17.7 million and $21.3 million,
the study said. Voters approved a zoning
change for the terminal last year, but when
the advisory panel’s report came out in
mid-November, it recommended the ferry
site become a boat marina.
In a reference to the Bermello Ajamil
study, the report said most of the 40-mem-
ber advisory panel was comfortable with
the current level of passengers. “There
didn’t seem to be an appetite for the much
larger visitation described in the consultant’s report,” it said.
In South Padre Island, there’s no ambivalence about attracting cruisers, said
city manager Susan Guthrie. The town is
packed each summer, but business is slow
during the winter, despite a mild climate.
Guthrie said a new mayor wants to
smooth out the seasonality. The town hired
a consortium of four firms — MarketScope
Global, IDEA, Cruise & Port Advisors and
NewmanPR — to promote the destination
to cruise lines.
The island has a beautiful beach, waters-ports, turtle- and bird-watching, sport fishing, a waterpark and more. Even one ship a
week would yield an estimated $19 million
economic impact, Guthrie said.
As for crowding, Guthrie said, “Because
our regular season is so opposite cruising
season, when you talk about a ship disembarking 3,000 people, I mean 3,000 people
is nothing to this community. On weekends
in July, we’ll get 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 people at a time. I think it’s going to be a very
Holland America Line’s Maasdam
loads passengers into tenders
during a 2015 call in Bar Harbor.