Emergency Action Plans, A Tale of Two Disasters

calendar icon
January 30, 2024
people icon
Patrick J. Karol,

Emergency Action Plans, what you need to know for the ASP, CSP, and CHST exams

On August 12, 1985, Japan Airlines Flight 123, with over 500 passengers and crew, took off from Tokyo to Osaka, Japan. At approximately 7:00 PM, the Boeing 747 suffered a severe structural failure (tail section broke away) and decompression 12 minutes into the flight. The crew was able to keep the aircraft in the air with minimal control for 32 minutes before crashing in the mountains 62 miles from Tokyo.

Rescue efforts were never deployed because it was assumed that no one survived. The next day, recovery efforts got underway, only to discover that four people survived. That sounded like a miracle until authorities found out from the survivors that possibly dozens of other passengers survived the impact only to parish overnight.

The investigation concluded that the structural failure was caused by a faulty repair by Boeing technicians following a tail strike incident seven years earlier. When the faulty repair eventually failed, it resulted in a rapid decompression that ripped off a large portion of the tail and caused the loss of all on-board hydraulic systems, disabling the aircraft's flight controls.


Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashed after suffering a structural failure minutes after takeoff. Over 520 passengers and crew died. Four passengers survived.

Fast forward to January 3, 2024, a Japan Airlines A-350 with 379 passengers struck a small Embraer aircraft on landing in Tokyo. The plane caught fire, and at least three(3) emergency exits were blocked. The flight crew immediately implemented the emergency action plan. A plan that they routinely practice and review. The evacuation began almost immediately after the plane came to a standstill. The flight crew evacuated all passengers in less than 2 minutes, and they were taken to safety within 20 minutes. As a result, all 379 passengers survived with only a few minor injuries. Witnesses estimate the aircraft was engulfed by flames 10 minutes later.  

Experts were surprised by the lack of serious injury or death. this was the sort of scene pilots, flight and ground crews trained for constantly. Training for that exact scenario has been pivotal here. a major factor in the good outcome was the compliance of those onboard.

On January 3, 2024, Japan Airlines A-350 struck another aircraft on landing. All passengers onboard the Japan Airlines flight survived.

NOTE:  This incident happened without warning; there would have been limited time for pilots to brief the crew on what was happening and formulate a plan.


The recent JAL accident highlights the importance of emergency action plans and drills. It’s also a topic on the ASP, CSP, and CHST exams. The exams cover emergency planning, response, and business continuity. Types of emergencies include nuclear incidents, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, chemical spills, fires, active violent attacks, and public utilities.

Here’s some of what you need to know about Emergency Action Plans for the ASP, CSP, and CHST.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is the department that maintains the National Incident Management System (NIMS).

  • FEMA reports through the Department of Homeland Security.
  • NIMS has created standardized vocabulary, systems, and processes to respond to all types of incidents.
  • NIMS contains 3 main elements:

           1.  Incident Command System (ICS)

           2.  Emergency Operations Center (EOC) is a  location designed to support emergency response, business continuity, and crisis communications activities.

          3.  Multiagency Coordination Group (MAC Group), is authorized to commit agency resources.

The Incident Command System (ICS) creates a standardized response format to facilitate planning and management functions for responding parties to work in a coordinated and systematic approach.

It includes the following standardized sections:

  • The Command Section develops, directs and maintains communication with multiple agencies on site, works with the local officials, the public and the media to provide up-to-date information regarding the disaster.
  • The Operations Section handles tactical operations, coordinates the command objectives and , and maintains communication with multiple agencies on site, and works with the local officials, the public, organizes and directs all resources to the disaster site.
  • The Planning Section provides information to the Command Center to develop the action plan that will accomplish the objectives. They also collect and evaluate information as the response occurs.
  • The Logistics Section provides personnel, equipment, and support for the Command Center. They handle the coordination of all services involved in the response, from locating rescue equipment to coordinating the response for volunteer organizations.
  • The Finance Section is responsible for accounting for funds used during the response and recovery aspect of the disaster. They monitor costs related to the incident and provide accounting analyses.


Command Staff - The staff who report directly to the Incident Commander:

       1.  Public Information Officer

       2.  Safety Officer

       3.  Liaison Officer


The best way to protect yourself and others is to prepare for an emergency before it happens. Do a thorough assessment of the workplace. Consider potential emergency situations and evaluate your workplace to see if it is sufficiently prepared. It is not only a smart plan to have, but it’s a federal and state regulation.

Nito Solutions offers ASP, CSP, and CHST exam preparation materials, including guidebooks and practice exams. For more information, see the Exam Materials tab or contact us about in-person workshops.