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National praise for Wiltshire and Swindon LRF 2014
The multi-agency response by members of Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum (LRF) to flooding last Autumn has received national praise.
In the early hours of Friday 19 September 2014, Network Rail contacted Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service to advise that a train had become stuck in floodwater at Pound Pill in Corsham.
Ninety passengers were on the train, which had come to a halt in a cutting where water was up to a metre deep in places.
Through the LRF, a major incident was declared and a number of agencies – including the Fire & Rescue Service, Wiltshire Police, South Western Ambulance Service and Wiltshire Council – used the principles of a programme known as JESIP to manage the safe removal of the passengers.
JESIP stands for Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles, and is a nationally adopted approach that helps emergency responders to better understand each other’s expertise and ways of working.
Although every agency has its own established skills and processes, as well as detailed knowledge of how partners work, the JESIP approach provides a framework that ensures that nothing is overlooked when a significant incident occurs.
In Corsham, there were a number of complexities to be resolved, such as ensuring that all passengers were cared for, providing additional assistance to those with medical issues, identifying the safest way of removing people from the train, providing an exit route that avoided the deep flood water, preparing a rest centre for the passengers as they were evacuated, and providing transport to get the passengers back home.
The JESIP programme has now cited this incident as an example of best practice, saying that using the principles had allowed for “well organised discussions on the ground between agencies” and the safe evacuation of all passengers within five hours.
In addition, the Government’s Director of Fire, Resilience and Emergencies, Neil O’Connor, made specific reference to the success of JESIP in Corsham when he spoke at the Embedding Collaborative Working Across Blue Light Services Conference earlier this year.
Mr O’Connor said that there was “strong evidence of JESIP principles” in the recovery and evacuation of the train’s passengers.
Deputy Chief Constable Mike Veale, who chairs the executive committee of Wiltshire and Swindon Local Resilience Forum, said: “At the time of the Corsham incident, we were very pleased locally with how the various agencies worked together to rescue the 90 stranded passengers. The conditions were difficult on the ground, and every organisation was stretched because of flooding across large parts of the county. Despite this, we were able to help the people from the train within just a few hours.
He added: “As agencies, we are all skilled in delivering an emergency response, and we have a proud history of working together when incidents occur. However, JESIP gives us additional assurance that we are doing the right things at the right time. All of the organisations within the LRF are committed to continued training as a partnership so that, whenever we next face a major incident, we are prepared and ready to do whatever is required to support our communities.