Emergency Services were called on to deal with a “devastating passenger jet plane crash” in London earlier this week, as part of a pre-planned training exercise.
More than 220 blue light service personnel took part in the enacted disaster training at a “crash site” set up in a building by the Thames in east London to test emergency response procedures. A real fuselage from a Boeing 737 aircraft was partially covered using 400 tonnes of rubble and real flame and smoke were used. Firefighters trained in water rescue searched the river for “survivors”, with actors from Amputees in Action, an agency which provides amputee actors, playing the part of casualties.
The excercise was hosted by London Fire Brigade.
London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said: “Whilst this scenario may appear worrying for some, I would like to reassure the public that these sort of exercises are vital to ensure that rescue teams are fully prepared should something like this ever happen in London.”
“It is only through this kind of exercise that we can fully test our plans and ensure that all the agencies which would be involved can respond effectively together, in a co-ordinated manner.”
“Air traffic incidents are extremely rare, but it is my responsibility to ensure that our fire and rescue teams, working with the other emergency services, are ready in the unlikely circumstance that something catastrophic were to occur with a plane in the capital.”
Jason Killens, London Ambulance Service director of operations, said the exercise provided a “valuable learning opportunity” for staff and tested their ability to cope with a real life major incident.
“Although this type of incident is extremely rare, it is important that we work together and plan now so we can continue to be well prepared for every possibility,” he said.
Commander Peter Terry, head of emergency preparedness for the Met, said: “Major incident exercises like this one provide us with the perfect opportunity to practice and test our response with our partners in a realistic fast moving environment.”
“They also allow us to examine what worked well and what difficulties we faced so we can take that learning and use it to improve our response and co-ordination when dealing with real live incidents in the future.”
Specialist Urban Search and Rescue teams from London and across the country worked together with members of the Metropolitan Police and the London Ambulance Service.Crash debris and working black box simulators were placed in the water for the Met Police dive team to recover.
London Fire Brigade said the exercise has been planned for over a year with Emergency personnel taking part in the drill being kept in the dark about what they would be coming up against.