Major simulated chemical exercise tests Kent
Emergency services and key agencies from across Kent have been tested in a major chemical scenario at the Port of Dover.
[IMAGE1LEFT]Around 150 staff and specialist equipment could be seen in action at the site last Thursday (22 March 2012), dealing with the aftermath of a mock incident that had supposedly caused casualties.
The Port of Dover remained open throughout the exercise which was organised by the Kent Resilience Forum, as one of a number of countrywide exercises required by the Government to examine multi-agency planning and preparedness at key UK sites.
[IMAGE2RIGHT]Chief Executive, Port of Dover, Bob Goldfield said: "As one of the world's busiest ferry ports we were pleased to facilitate this exercise and work together with our partners in Kent. We take the safety and security of the Port very seriously and such exercises are a valuable way of preparing for potential major incidents at a key UK gateway."
Kent Police's Head of Tactical Operations Command, Chief Superintendent Alasdair Hope, said: "Kent Police resources and expertise are constantly put to the test during everyday policing, special operations and multi-agency exercises like this one. The multi-agency exercises are a valuable tool in our policing armoury because they hone our skills and highlight our strengths and any weaknesses - both as individual organisations and as a team.
"Dover is the busiest port in Europe with thousands of people entering and leaving the country every day. In addition, more than 74,000 freight vehicles travel on Kent roads weekly. Given the high volume of human and vehicle traffic there is a greater than normal potential for things to go wrong.
"Our overriding aim is to keep the people of Kent, and its visitors, safe and enhance their quality of life where possible. We can best achieve that by constantly testing, and improving where necessary, our working practices so that in the unlikely event that we have to manage a major crisis, we can quickly and effectively reduce the impact that it may have."
Based on the scenario of a chemical leak from a lorry which has unloaded from a ferry, Kent Fire and Rescue Service's Incident Response Unit was used at the scene. The unit has the capability to decontaminate or shower large numbers of people who may have been involved in a release of harmful substances. KFRS Director of Operations, Steve Demetriou, said: "This was a highly visual event but we hope that it has reassured residents that Kent's agencies are regularly working together to prepare for major incidents and we believe those plans have responded well to testing and scrutiny in Dover."
Working alongside KFRS, the responsibility for decontaminating people lies with the South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Trust (SECAmb). Senior Contingency Planning and Resilience Manager for SECAmb, Steve Carpenter, said: "It is very rare for us to get such an opportunity to test our response capabilities within the Port of Dover to such a scale, so we are delighted to have this opportunity to not only test our plans but also learn from this exercise moving forward."
Meanwhile, the William Harvey Hospital at Ashford received a number of the mock casualties. Peter Johnson, Emergency Planning Manager at the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust, said: "Whilst we deal with emergencies on a daily basis, the exercise has provided us with the opportunity to test specialist equipment and procedures that although rarely needed, would be vital in a real situation. It also gives us the chance to work with other partners and ensure that collectively we can meet the challenges a major emergency might pose."
Ann Sutton, Chief Executive of NHS Kent and Medway said: "The NHS regularly exercises its plans for handling major incidents. Multi-agency events like this are vital to ensure we are all able to work well together, implementing our plans swiftly, smoothly and in a co-ordinated way. NHS Kent and Medway is very pleased to have been involved in this exercise, which has shown that health organisations in the county are well prepared for anything that might occur."
Dover District Council organised a Survivor Reception Centre in a nearby leisure centre.
Nadeem Aziz, Chief Executive of Dover District Council said: "We are very pleased to be actively involved in this important exercise, and to be supporting this major partnership project. This is part of our ongoing commitment to continue to work with partners, to make sure we work effectively together and stay prepared."
Other agencies playing a key role in the event included the UK Border Agency, Kent County Council, the Health Protection Agency, the Military, ferry operators DFDS and P&O, and the Environment Agency.
Full story and pictures available at www.dover.uk.com/news
Published on Tuesday, 27 March 2012 at 9:32am
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