Multiple agencies test their skills at Cotswold Airport in large-scale training exercise

Emergency services from across the country spent three days at Cotswold Airport taking part in a large-scale training exercise to practice their response to a major incident.

Organised and facilitated by Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS), firefighters from Avon, Gloucestershire, Dorset & Wiltshire, West Midlands and Hereford & Worcester Fire & Rescue Service, as well as Cotswold Airport, worked collaboratively with police, ambulance, and military colleagues to respond to a number of casualties seeking medical assistance. Members of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) were also in attendance.

The three-day training exercise – organised thanks to Cotswold Airport and Air Salvage International – involved multiple scenarios, including a plane crash, a terrorist attack, trapped casualties and the discovery of an identified device and suspected nerve agent. As part of this training, the police declared Operation Plato and Operation Tapestry – rarely exercised – in response to the staged terrorist attacks.

Shane Saunders, Watch Manager at Hicks Gate Fire Station, said: “This training exercise has provided an exciting and unique opportunity for Urban Search and Rescue, firefighters, paramedics, police, military, and facilitators to test their reaction to a major incident involving aircrafts.

“Although we hope we’ll never be called to such a devastating incident, it’s vital that we practice our response and how we work alongside other agencies.

Volunteers from the Casualties Union and staff and students from Hartpury College were also involved in the exercise, playing the part of casualties to provide realism for those involved in the training. The Rapid Relief Team, a charity supporting communities in need and providing relief in emergencies, were on hand to serve refreshments throughout the three-day exercise.    

Shane added: “I’d like to say a special thank you to all the hardworking individuals – within AF&RS and externally – involved in the planning, preparing and facilitation of the training exercise. It’s been three years in the making as we wanted to ensure there was plenty for everyone in attendance to properly apply their knowledge, experience, and skills to different scenarios – and it was successful in doing that.”

Matt Armstrong, Area Manager for Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service said: “This training exercise has provided a fantastic opportunity for us to work in collaboration with other services, partners, and organisations as well as enabling us to assure our levels of response to significant incidents.

“Simulated incidents are developed to reflect potential real-life scenarios ensuring that we are fully prepared and can respond effectively and appropriately when we are needed.

“Ourselves and our partners train extensively to develop strong working relationships and share knowledge to ensure that we can deliver the highest level of emergency response to our communities.”

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