brazilfireMembers of West Midlands Fire Service formed part of a 69 person UK International Search and Rescue team which travelled to Italy as part of a European disaster response exercise at the end of last year.

The main objective of the exercise in Venice last December was to test the response, coordination and interoperability of international teams under the European Union Community Protection Mechanism in the realistic environment of a functional field exercise.

The six-man Command Support Team from the West Midlands comprising of; Rob Norman, Jeff March, Pete Sheppard, Shaun Crone, Dave Heywood, and Mark Hannon, formed the command support component of the UK ISAR team which  deploys to disasters around the globe on behalf of the UK Government.

ISAR team leader Sean Moore said: "The exercise provided us with a tremendous opportunity to test our mobilisation and deployment processes and to work as part of a multi-national disaster response team.

"Furthermore, large scale exercises are seen as one of the cornerstones of a pan European preparedness strategy, and we are very proud to have been invited to participate and fully test our capability."

The scenario itself involved an earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1, striking off the coast of the fictional country ‘Modexland’, and a 3.5m tidal wave washing ashore and moving approximately 15Km inland. Powerful aftershocks were also registered inland causing further chaos.

The UK Team were deployed to various locations around Venetian ‘Modexland’ where realistic training scenarios had been created to test skills in;
• Assessment of damaged cities, towns and buildings
• Search for and location of deeply entrapped victims
• Scene stabilisation using timber shoring systems
• Gaining access to structures using a range of specialist tools
• Advanced life support
• Rescue (extrication)
• Hazardous Materials Assessment

Other exercise participants included USAR teams from Estonia, Hungary, and the United Kingdom, a Technical Assistance Support Team from Austria, and a European Union Civil Protection Team with personnel from five further member states. Within the confines of the exercise various other countries and rescue functions were represented in a virtual manner in order to increase the level of deployed resources and further test coordination and logistical support frameworks.