Emergency exercise in Norwich goes according to plan

Emergency services and volunteers come together at St Luke's Church in Norwich as part of exercise H

Emergency services and volunteers come together at St Luke's Church in Norwich as part of exercise Harmony for Norfolk Prepared Week. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Members of the voluntary and faith sector in Norwich took part in an exercise to test their skills and show how they could help the emergency services in the event of a crisis.

Saturday's event was organised by the Norfolk resilience forum and the scenario involved moving casualties/evacuees from one place to another with various locations across Norwich used including Waterloo Park, St Luke's Church, Aylsham Road, Sprowston High School, Carrow fire station, the British Red Cross in Norwich and County Hall.

The emergency services were also involved in the exercise, and the Ministry of Defence, with Norwich North MP Chloe Smith observing.

John Ellis, resilience manager for Norfolk County Council, was overseeing the operation at Waterloo Park.

He said: 'This group at the park has been asked by police to find two missing people.

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'The idea is to get the voluntary sector working together in support of an event. And to test their skills, and show other agencies what they can give to a multi-agency incident.'

The day's scenario was that civil emergencies had taken place in all UK major cities with hundreds of people in Norwich unable to remain in their homes, including large areas of private housing and local care homes.

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One of the significant incidents in Norwich was a fire at a tower block, which had suffered structural damage and was threatening nearby properties in the surrounding area.

Jayde Robinson, Norfolk resilience forum business manager, said: 'Sixty-five members of the public played evacuees and spent the morning at St Luke's Church, getting made up with wounds, etc. They were then transported to Sprowston High School, which was used as the rest centre. We had a couple of people go missing, and search and rescue found them successfully in good time at Waterloo Park.

'The deployment and communications went well, and there was a lot of social media involved. It was really a learning experience. 'The majority of exercises are based on the 'blue lights', but today the voluntary and faith sector showed what they can do to help in an emergency, and how they can support the 'blue lights'. It was a first for Norfolk, where we have never held an event of this scale before.'

Local resilience forums throughout the UK were invited by Community Resilience UK cic, which helps people and their communities prepare for, and recover from major emergencies, to bid for grant funding to support a locally delivered operational 'live' exercise in order to exercise and promote local voluntary sector engagement. A grant of up to £5,000 was awarded to four forums, including Norwich.

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