Reflections on the Bristow Helicopter Crash in Lagos (August 2015)

Philip Keshiro, DRI Nigeria


We would like to appreciate all the agencies and officials that took part in responding during the recent Bristow Helicopter crash.

Review of the incident

From reports we were told that the first responding agency got to the scene at least one hour after the incident as reported.

From the visuals shown most if not all of rescue efforts (diving) were carried out by local divers with their boats.

Preparedness Issues from Incident

a. Total reliance on local divers with inadequate tools only compound or elongate the timing for rescue.

b. Timeliness of responding – Getting to the scene of accident in one (1) hour needs improvement, the reason simply is that it takes less than 2 minutes for a submerged victim to die. Therefore one hour before official rescue commence is too long.

c. Too many agencies performing same role leads to confusion and does not show there is a plan, or joint exercise with TEAMS from each agency.

d. Lack of command center to take charge of the incident can also cause further damages to victims and properties

e. In this type of technical disaster, who should be in charge?

Our Opinion

A. Agencies such as FAAN, NCAA and the company Bristow Helicopters, and the coordinating agency LASEMA should have a plan that should looks at an instance where a plane or Helicopter will fail to get to the airport, looking beyond ICAO regulation which stipulates a specific radius, reference to Airport Emergency Response plan.

Questions to be asked at the data gathering stage (Risk Evaluation)

• Is it possible for plane or helicopters to drop or develop problems before getting to the airport?

o Probability is Yes (It has happened before – Dana)

• Can we get to such site at the required response time (Less than 10 minutes)

o Yes / No – Answer – NO

o What are the Resources required to meet this response time?

Please note that because of the nature of our roads and traffic, should we be looking at Medical Power Bike? As first initial response followed by the ambulances and aircraft ambulances?

• Do we have teams trained for rescue at sea or lagoons based on flight plans?

• Do we need to develop some response capabilities for these areas such as U.S Coast Guards?

• Do we need to involve Navy boats personnel to frequent our sea and lagoons?

B. Training on Disaster Management

Before agencies can come together for rescue efforts, it is presupposed that each agency should have a plan and would have developed some level of proficiencies within its purview, before coming together as one on TEAM basis to work on an incident.

Why did we say Training is lacking

a. Many agencies were in charge – Everybody getting on to the camera. Who is in charge? A look at the Incident Command System will explain this

b. Teams were not clearly visible or seen to be doing a particular assignment based on their regular legal job. You expect FRSC and Police at the perimeter of the cordon area. If incident have been on land, we would have had encroachment.

c. We noted that both strategic and operational personnel of the State and Agencies were at the scene. We need to avoid this practice to guide against secondary occurrence.

d. No visible sign of Command Center, therefore we can safely say there is no Emergency Operations Center (EOC).


We will conclude by appreciating the efforts of responders; however issues raised here are not to rubbish the good works of our various agencies but to point the way forward for improvement.

What is the plan? It is called Business Continuity. Take a look at the Nigerian Pandemic Plan; it appears more than 40 times, It is the tool for managing disaster for the Private Sector BUT the principles are also used by the Public Sector to mitigate and plan against incidents and disasters, the publicity, enforcement of Business Continuity ought to be the responsibility of the Federal Republic of Nigeria according to the Nigerian Pandemic Plan.


Courtesy: DRI Professionals in Nigeria.

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