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On Friday 7th October 2016, the Local Resilience Forum undertook the final exercise in their autumn trilogy of exercising aimed at responders being prepared to respond to a major incident or emergency. The overall purpose is to help keep the people of Wiltshire and Swindon safe. Agencies attended MOD Corsham so that plans could be tested together in a multi-agency environment in response to a major incident scenario at the site.
The exercise, named Exercise Manhattan, had operational ‘live’ play in the morning involving a helicopter crash which was played in ‘real’ time. The wreckage of a military Lynx helicopter was placed at the MOD Corsham site with simulated fatalities and casualties. The organisation Action Amps took part to add realism to the scenario, and to assist paramedics in assessing how to deal with multiple casualties who may have been seriously injured.
Wiltshire Police, Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service, Wiltshire Council (supported by colleagues from Swindon Borough Council), South Western Ambulance Service, NHS England and the Environment Agency were some of the key local partners involved in Exercise Manhattan.
The exercise focussed on response and rescue in the morning with ‘live’ play to see how partner agencies coordinate their response at the scene. The three emergency services now operate to a common set of principles known as JESIP (Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles) which have been developed since the 7/7 bombings in London. The afternoon took the form of a table-top scenario where tactical commanders were brought together to consider the same incident and examine their response, and the wider implications around recovery. At the same time, MOD Corsham invoked their business continuity plans, requiring staff from the site and responding agencies to work in synergy together to resolve the incident. Participants were required to decide what needed to be done to bring the site back to full functionality and the local community back to normal.
Wiltshire Police and Wiltshire Council also used the exercise to test their Survivor Reception Centre plans.
Emergency planners, who form part of the Local Resilience Forum, have been working together with colleagues from MOD Corsham for more than six months planning the exercise.
A major incident is an event or situation, with a range of serious consequences, which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agencies.
Bob Young, Major Incident Planning Manager for Wiltshire Police said: “Wiltshire has a significant number of MOD establishments across the county. Exercise Manhattan was a good opportunity for partner agencies to test their response to an incident and work with colleagues from the MOD to ensure that we understand what is required and the capabilities of each organisation.
"It is always good for us to exercise our plans and learn lessons for the future.”
Mike Veale, Chief Constable of Wiltshire Police and Chair of the Local Resilience Forum, said: “Exercise Manhattan has been a really good opportunity to test and exercise our plans in conjunction with MOD colleagues.
"I would emphasise that major incidents are, thankfully, relatively rare in Wiltshire and Swindon. However, the Local Resilience Forum regularly works together for incidents such as flooding, adverse weather or any incident where more than one agency is involved.”
Further information about the work of Action Amps can be found at http://www.actionamps.com/
(Warning: Although simulated, some of the images are graphic in their realism).