Experts at the University of Portsmouth have operated what is being lauded as the biggest international disaster response exercise of its kind, taking place across numerous sites for three days – an event that involves around 2,000 people from over 50 organisations.
The exercises – known as SimEx – first dates back five years ago, set up as a training day for students on the crisis and disaster management course at the university, run by Dr Richard Teeuw. These days, the event is managed by Naomi Morris, a teacher on the course, using her skills and expertise in emergency response to help organisations and individuals respond to both natural and manmade disasters.
The first day started with an impoverished country left devastated by an earthquake, with explosions and leaks at a local oil refinery. The sea-based response focused on coastal surveys of refugee boats, with many fleeing the scene by sea. And on land, the attention was centred on refugee reception, health, shelter and general wellbeing.
Dr Teeuw commented: “SimEx has since grown, in partnership with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, to a major multi-agency exercise training and practicing emergency responses.”
Organisations involved in the exercises included the UN, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Red Cross, the RNLI, the Coastguard, the UK National Disaster Victim Identification Unit and the UK Department for International Development, among many others.
Similar events are often staged throughout the UK to ensure that appropriate emergency procedures are in place, no matter what happens. On Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire last year, members of staff from emergency services in the south-west were trained alongside soldiers from the army to help prepare first responders for potential riots that could happen in the event of a terrorist attack.