Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service hosted a major incident exercise, involving an aeroplane crash to test the Fire and Rescue Service's multi-agency response.
Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service have played host to six other fire and rescue services (Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and two private sector services for BAE and Sellafield) participating in a 'Domesday' scenario training exercise in which an aeroplane crashes as a result of a hijack attempt in the skies above Lancashire. The exercise at the service's Training Centre, Euxton, also involved Lancashire Constabulary, NW Air Ambulance and Lancashire NHS ambulance crews, Civil Aviation Authority, Casualty Union, the Army and hazard simulation experts, Argon Electronics.
PreparationLancashire's Chief Fire Officer, Peter Holland, explained the reason behind the multi-agency exercise: "Underpinning the Fire and Rescue Services' emergency response resources of personnel, equipment, experience and skills are thorough preparation and planning, including training scenarios that resemble as far as possible, the 'real thing' to test our resources and our ability to respond effectively in any emergency situation.
"Though much of our preparation and training is for incidents on a smaller scale, it is necessary from time to time to test our response capability for major incidents and that is the focus for Exercise Dakota, which centres on a large-scale emergency brought about as a result of a terrorist attack.
"By inviting other fire and rescue service teams and the emergency response crews of other agencies and organisations to participate - such as would be the case with a real incident of that nature - realism and more importantly the validity of the exercise as a rigorous test of our strategies and resources has been assured."
The exercise took place at Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service's Training Centre (Washington Hall), Southport Road, Euxton, Chorley, February 12.
A special effort was made to accommodate the needs of media, including roaming access (safely escorted) to all areas beyond the cordons that an incident would usually demand.
The ScenarioA commercial airplane travelling into a local aerodrome had been subjected to a failed hijack attempt, and crash-landed into an industrial area, several miles short of the runway. The plane was embedded in several steel industrial units. Radioactive material, which was present in the cargo has now scattered over the site. Over twenty casualties were trapped in the wreckage, whilst several more suffered fatal injuries. Live fires started in the surrounding area.
Timelines• 0800: A report of an explosion at an 'industrial unit' was received by control generating a response by three fire appliances (15 firefighters, one flexible duty officer) and the Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team from Leyland.
• On arrival at Washington Hall fire crews were greeted with the tail section of an aircraft, and moved forward to discover a 'crashed' aircraft, embedded in an industrial unit, with live casualties in the forward section.
• The incident was escalated to six fire appliances, with a mobile fire station (command and control unit) by around 0900, at which time two additional USAR teams were also mobilised from Croxteth, Merseyside and Sellafield, Cumbria.
• 0900: The Incident Commander received advice that it could have been a terrorist related incident and that radioactive material could be present at the crash site. This advice activated the deployment of a Hazardous Materials Unit (HMU) and the Mass Decontamination (MD) capability from Burnley. A Detection, Identification and Monitoring (DIM) team from Greater Manchester was mobilised to assist in detecting the radioactive source.
• Firefighters attending to the 'casualties' were joined by the NW Ambulance Hazardous Area Response Team (HART).
• Additional input to the liaison officer came from Civil Aviation Authority and National Resilience personnel on site.
• The Police role during this exercise was primarily focused on Disaster Victim Identification and Command and Control.
• Around 100 people were involved in the incident at its height, including the full Regional Urban Search and Rescue Capability and other National Resilience assets.
Posted: 10.50am, 21.02.11