Mock Chemical Incident Tests Kent Agencies
Emergency services, along with key agencies from across Kent, have been tested by a major chemical scenario at the port of Dover.
Roughly 150 staff and a range of specialist equipment were required at the port on 22 March, 2012, to manage the clean-up of a mock incident, which included a number of casualties.
Although the exercise took a considerable amount of time and resources to execute, the port remained open throughout, which is an indication of the impressive organisational skills of the Kent Resilience Forum who organised the event. The Dover exercise was just one of a number of country-wide exercises required by the UK government to examine multi-agency planning and preparedness at key UK sites.
Dover is one of the busiest ports in Europe, with thousands of people passing through it every day and over 74,000 freight vehicles using it each week. This exceptionally high volume of traffic increases the chance of incidents occurring, be they deliberate or otherwise.
Bob Goldfield, Chief Executive at the Port of Dover, 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.”
Chief Superintendent Alasdair Hope, of Kent’s Police’s Head of Tactical Operations Command, stated, “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.”
This scenario, based on the scenario of a leak from a lorry that has unloaded from a ferry, utilised Kent Fire and Rescue Service’s Incident Response Unit. The unit is able to decontaminate or shower large numbers of people who may have been exposed to 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). 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.”
William Harvey Hospital at Ashford received a number of the mock casualties. Other Agencies involved in this truly inter-services exercise included the UK Border Agency, Kent County Council, the HPA, Military, ferry operators DFDS and P&O, and the environment agency.
Emergency Services Times, April 2012 .
Kent Fire and Rescue website