BE PRE­PARED: Mock rail crash for emer­gency ser­vices

Event to pre­pare emer­gency ser­vices for disas­ter

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - by Goolis­tan Cooper goolis­tan.cooper@trin­i­tymir­

EMER­GENCY ser­vices have taken part in Europe’s big­gest ever disas­ter train­ing ex­er­cise.

It saw fire­fight­ers, po­lice of­fi­cers and am­bu­lance per­son­nel from across Lon­don tak­ing part in a four day sce­nario based upon a build­ing col­laps­ing onto a Water­loo Tube sta­tion in the cap­i­tal.

Hun­dreds of ac­tors – each with a dif­fer­ent story – helped make the sce­nario as re­al­is­tic as pos­si­ble to test the clin­i­cal skills of the emer­gency crews re­spond­ing to the mocked up disas­ter.

In or­der to cre­ate the most re­al­is­tic en­vi­ron­ment pos­si­ble, an en­tire tube sta­tion was recre­ated and then ‘crushed’ in a dis­used power sta­tion close to the Dart­ford river cross­ing.

With more than 1,000 ca­su­al­ties, thou­sands of tonnes of rub­ble, seven tube car­riages and hun­dreds of emer­gency ser­vice re­spon­ders, Ex­er­cise Uni­fied Re­sponse (EUR) had been over a year in the plan­ning.

Par­tic­i­pat­ing were a wide range of or­gan­i­sa­tions that are in­volved in disas­ter re­sponse, such as a num­ber of Lon­don lo­cal au­thor­i­ties and Trans­port for Lon­don. Lon­don’s Air Am­bu­lance also took part.

Not only did the ex­er­cise which ran for four days from Mon­day last week, pro­vide a re­al­is­tic train­ing en­vi­ron­ment for spe­cial­ist Ur­ban Search and Res­cue teams from across the UK but the scale of the in­ci­dent also gave spe­cial­ist teams from the po­lice, am­bu­lance ser­vice and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties a chance to prac­tise skills and func­tions.

Lon­don Am­bu­lance Ser­vice’s di­rec­tor of op­er­a­tions Paul Woodrow said: “Over four days am­bu­lance staff treated hun­dreds of in­juries that would be typ­i­cal dur­ing an in­ci­dent like this in­clud­ing frac­tures, bro­ken limbs, head in­juries, am­pu­ta­tions, spinal in­juries and res­pi­ra­tory con­di­tions.”

Around 175 clin­i­cal staff at­tended each day in­clud­ing emer­gency am­bu­lance crews, paramedics, ad­vanced paramedics, and spe­cial­ist staff from the Haz­ardous Area Re­sponse Team.

Lon­don Fire Com­mis­sioner Ron Dob­son, said: “Ex­er­cises of this scale are im­por­tant to en­sure that we are al­ways ready to re­spond no mat­ter what hap­pens.

“You can’t get this sort of ex­pe­ri­ence from a text book, we need to play it like it’s real and en­sure that should the worst hap­pen, our re­sponse is ef­fec­tive and well co­or­di­nated.

“It’s fit­ting that this ex­er­cise should be part of our 150th cel­e­bra­tions as it shows how we have de­vel­oped as a Brigade.”

Mr Woodrow added: “In the event of a ma­jor in­ci­dent we have clear pro­cesses and plans in place in­clud­ing an alert sys­tem for staff who have proved they are al­ways will­ing to sup­port our re­sponse – even when not on duty.

“By test­ing our re­sponses to an in­ci­dent like this we’ll in­crease our pre­pared­ness for any ma­jor in­ci­dent that af­fects Lon­don. It is also a great op­por­tu­nity to test how we work with emer­gency ser­vices and all other part­ners across Lon­don.”

EUR was funded by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion Ex­er­cise Pro­gram. Teams were also work­ing along­side fire­fight­ers from Italy, Hun­gary and Cyprus who were mo­bilised to the in­ci­dent.

Pho­tos by @LAS_JRU

n AT THE SCENE: Paramedics and fire­fight­ers work­ing on the disas­ter scene, mocked up at a dis­used power sta­tion in Dock­lands

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