Crews return from major emergency exercise

Mon 28 Apr, 2014

Members of the team from Aylesbury are pictured working in the Boeing 737's fuselage. Exercise Teal will be featured on The One Show tonight (BBC One, 7pm, Monday 28 April 2014). 


The Procedure

Ten members of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Urban Search and Rescue team from Aylesbury Fire Station, and a fire officer from Milton Keynes, have returned this morning after taking part in a major emergency exercise in London over the weekend.

They were mobilised on Saturday evening, and worked at the scene until 10am on Sunday and then from Sunday evening to 4am today, Monday, 28 April.

Exercise Teal was designed to test local and national emergency response procedures to a major air crash in the capital. More than 220 emergency service personnel took part.

The scenario featured a real fuselage from a Boeing 737, which a specialist team from London Fire Brigade had painstakingly installed in the hangar of a derelict Victorian flour mill in Canning Town, partially burying it in 400 tonnes of rubble. Firefighters had to create safe access so that trapped casualties could be reached.

Part of the exercise took place out in the docks outside the building, where firefighters trained in water rescue searched for survivors, and specialist police marine diving teams recovered evidence.

Real flames and smoke were used to make the scene look as convincing as possible and to create a challenging training environment for the rescue teams involved.

Denis O’Driscoll, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Head of Service Development, said: “No details were made available to our staff before they received the request to attend. This was done in order to provide a real test of our own arrangements for responding to a major incident in another area.

"This exercise gave us the opportunity not only to test our personnel in their technical and practical knowledge at a major exercise, but also to put into place our own mobilising and contingency arrangements, which were finalised following the integration of Urban Search and Rescue into Aylesbury Fire Station last year.

“The crews operated with great enthusiasm for two consecutive nights, with little sleep in between, in challenging circumstances. I was hugely impressed by their attitude and expertise.”

The exercise also involved staff in Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s Control Room, and a team in an Operations Support Room set up at Headquarters in Aylesbury.