Emergency response teams of firefighters, civilian and military, came together this week on board HMS Queen Elizabeth to tackle a blaze, in one of the biggest training days of its kind to be held.
Members from Portsmouth naval base’s Emergency Response Team, Hampshire Ambulance Hazardous Area Response Team and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service were all involved, the Portsmouth News reports.
The warship itself is one of the biggest to have been built for the Royal Navy, weighing in at 65,000 tonnes and measuring 280m in length. There are over 3,000 different compartments to the ship, spread over 12 decks – which means it’s relatively easy to get lost in the vessel.
This training day was the first time external emergency service teams were given the chance to navigate the ship in a mock situation – but to make it as realistic as possible, training smoke was used to fill corridors and some mock ‘casualties’ who needed treatment and evacuation.
Teams had to triage, treat and disentangle multiple people from the decks of the ship, while firefighters tackled blazes across several of the compartments.
Rob Jenks, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Station Manager, explained how unnerving it was because the ship is so very big.
“The sheer size and scale of it is a challenge, it’s like a small shopping centre or industrial estate. If you were to be taken on to it blindfolded and left in the middle of it, you wouldn’t know it’s a warship.
“In the scenario we worked on, to get to the scene of operation was about a 200m walk – that’s with guys in full kit. That was a challenge … It would have to be a very significant event for the Royal Navy to call on us for help.
“The likelihood of us having to attend the dockyard would be very low – the navy and dockyard crews are very well drilled, equipped and capable. But by preparing ourselves with exercises like this it ensures we are as ready and well prepared as we can be,” he went on to say.
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