Testing times as town prepares for disaster
Plans for a fullscale test of how Ashford would react to emergencies
PREPARATIONS are being made to protect the borough should disaster strike.
Ashford Borough Council carried out a no-notice test last Saturday to see how quick the council could respond to an emergency such as such as a terrorist attack, natural disaster or industrial accident.
Exercise Oscar tested the efficiency of the council’s call cascade system to see how soon an emergency centre could be set up and staffed at the Civic Centre, in Tannery Lane.
The exercise showed it would take just over an hour to set up the centre from which officers would communicate with the emer- gency services and media.
At a meeting of the overview and scrutiny committee last Tuesday, members also discussed the council’s role in providing emergency rest centres.
This means it would find temporary shelter, in village halls, leisure centres or schools, for people who had, for example, been evacuated from their homes due to a gas leak.
Chief executive David Hill said that while major incidents would need to be pre- pared for, the council must cover all cases.
“A lot of the emergencies which have happened in the past have developed relatively slowly, like foot and mouth and have not been crashes and catastrophes,” he said.
“We have to be prepared to respond to these things in terms of keeping normal life going.”
There are plans for a reallife exercise in Ashford later this year, involving the Primary Care Trust and police community officers.
An annual full-scale countywide exercise will be carried out next year by Kent Resilience Forum. Speaking at the meeting, Kent County Council emergency planning officer, Barbara Mason, said: “There will probably not be one of these this year as it takes a lot of work to get organised and it is very expensive.
“There will be casualties in the field and we are asking police, fire and ambulance to join us.”
We have to be prepared to respond to these things in terms of keeping normal life going