Space Coast Post publishes Operation Fast Start Plan
Due to the leadership and initiative of Lou Martinez, Emergency Preparedness Chair, Space Coast Post, the Fast Start Plan for Emergency Preparedness is now on the Space Coast Post website for use by sustaining members, public officials, and businesses in Brevard County.
The Post is based in Brevard County, Fla. making this plan very important for the county’s hurricane prone area. The Plan includes descriptions of potential emergencies, a briefing process for local officials, guidance to sustaining members, and appendices for member contacts and capabilities. This proposition exemplifies the Post’s mission and the goals of SAME.
On the afternoon of January 13, 1982, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed into the 14th Street Bridge on takeoff over the Potomac River, during Washington rush hour traffic. Among the causes of the crash was the severe cold that iced up the engines and wings, resulting in loss of lift and power. Seventy of the seventy-four passengers died, as well as all of the crew, despite heroic incidences of water rescue that saved the four survivors. Following the lifesaving effort, it became apparent that the wreckage needed to be quickly cleared from the river.
The Baltimore U.S. Army Corps of Engineers District was tasked by authorities to supply lifting and other equipment that night, including a barge mounted crane. The SAME Baltimore Post had just published its Fast Start Plan, which included the capabilities of one of the sustaining members, a marine construction firm in Maryland who could provide such equipment. Lou Martinez was the Deputy District Engineer and Contracting Officer and was instrumental in awarding a sole source emergency task order to that company. The contractor sailed the barge through the ice dammed Chesapeake Bay in the dark that evening and removed most of the debris in the next couple of days. The Coast Guard, who had contributed to the plan, was cooperative enough to postpone a seaworthiness inspection for damage to the barge caused by ice during its race to the disaster site, which turned out to be a wise decision, since the vessel was later found to be doing well. The Fast Start Plan proved itself that night and has continued to do so many times over since that event.