Support provided for Europe’s biggest ever disaster response
St John Ambulance has taken part in Exercise Unified
Ambulance have taken part in Europe’s largest disaster training
exercise involving hundreds of workers from numerous emergency
services, including the London Ambulance Service (LAS) and the
London Fire Brigade.
Exercise Unified Response, which began on Monday 29 February and
lasts four days, involves over 1,000 volunteer ‘victims’ that are
part of the drill based around a simulation of a tower block
collapsing on to a London tube station.
Four separate venues in London as well as a disused power
station in Dartford, Kent, are being used for the exercise.
The purpose of the operation is to test the co-ordinated
response of more than 70 agencies in the event of a major disaster
involving a high number of casualties.
Scene of carnage created
To create the most realistic environment possible, a destroyed
tube station has been created, with platforms, carriages, rubble,
as well as fake dead bodies and volunteer ‘casualties’ with
life-like injuries, such as burns and severed limbs.
Alongside emergency services, local councils, utility companies,
distaster victim indentification and specialist search and rescue
teams are also taking part, as are disaster victim identification
teams from partner European countries.
While not directly participating in providing responders to the
exercise, St John Ambulance has been supporting London Ambulance
Service with a small logistics team, equipment vehicles and a
Paul Woodrow, Director of Operations for LAS, said: ‘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.’
Voluntary sector gold commander
such a large scale drill taking place, the London Voluntary Sector
Panel has for the first time tested a gold commander representing
the whole voluntary sector in the event of a major disaster.
The gold–silver–bronze command structure is used by emergency
services in the UK to establish a hierarchical framework for the
command and control of major incidents and disasters – gold being
strategic level command.
Katherine Eaton, St John Ambulance London Region Events &
Logistics Manager, said: 'The exercise provides a good platform for
testing the idea of having a gold commander coordinating all
voluntary organisations if such a disaster were to occur.
‘We are excited to participate in this exercise and we are using
the opportunity this week to explore the idea and see what we can