The control tower at North Texas Regional Airport — Perrin Field has received upgraded equipment following a communication breakdown with first responders. A near emergency in August revealed a need for improved training and equipment updates that were needed between the tower and area fire personnel.
“We are still waiting on delivery of a circuit board for the emergency response where they push a button and push to talk,” Interim Airport Director Mike Livezey said Thursday. “Apparently there aren’t a lot of options for getting that replaced.”
The tower improvements and retraining efforts stem from an incident in August when an airplane reported an emergency while approaching the airport. The tower tried to reach out to the NTRA Fire Station but was unable to make contact through direct channel.
The aircraft was able to resolve the issue without outside assistance and was able to land safely. However, the incident resulted in meetings between tower personnel, the fire station, airport representatives and the Grayson County Office of Emergency Management.
It was determined that the button used to contact emergency personnel connected to a desk at the fire station. Instead, it should have contacted emergency dispatch, who would be able to directly contact the fire department or get in touch with outside mutual aid.
The meetings determined that the tower should have contacted dispatch in the event of the emergency, but fire department personnel also did not alert the tower that they were leaving the airport.
Following the incident, Livezey said the tower was equipped with a new communications line that will connect with the NTRA Fire Department’s mobile equipment while they are away from the department.
The airport is still working on upgrading the one-touch emergency line to connect to the proper channels, but the aging equipment needs a specialized circuit board that is not easy to acquire. It has taken the airport about a month to order the proper piece. In the interim, tower personnel have been directed to contact 911 in the event of an emergency.
Once the equipment is in place, the tower personnel will undergo retraining on emergency practices that will be directed by the GCOEM, Livezey said.