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5th Jul, 2022

Front line workers join forces in major incident simulation exercise

Sarah Mason 31st Mar, 2022

TECHNOLOGY and teamwork joined forces to help train first responders and local authorities to manage major incidents.

Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire councils came together with the emergency services at the Simulation Centre at Coventry University for a training exercise to help keep people safe at major events.

In one tested scenario, a car race on Coventry ring road is stopped when an electric car carrying protestors opposed to the race, gains access to and blocks ring road, causing one of the racing cars to crash through the barriers, injuring spectators.

As they rush to help the casualties, emergency workers are overcome by fumes and themselves become victims.

The lighting and temperature in the room change as the incident progresses and actors in the room play the roles of distressed relatives, angry protestors and anyone else who paramedics, police or firefighters might come across at an actual emergency scene.

“All of the classroom training in the world can’t prepare you for what it’s really like in the middle of a major emergency,” said Kerry Blakeman from West Midlands Police.

She added: “This virtual world allows us to test our well-rehearsed plans in a safe but realistic environment, where we can identify important lessons.

“The aim is that when we do come together in the real world, we’ve ironed out issues that could stop us from being the best we could be.”

And just as in real incidents, frontline staff share updates of what’s happening with their control rooms and decisions are then fed into the simulation, changing the virtual scene in real time to show how they impact the incident.

Sessions are observed and recorded so they can be used after for action review, to reflect and feedback on how everyone performed.

David Levesley, West Midlands Ambulance Service’s emergency preparedness manager, said: “The simulation centre offers complex scenarios that can be quickly reset and quickly altered.

“This means that all our commanders can experience multi-agency working, identifying learning quickly and consistently.

“The site also reduces the impact of exercise planning and delivery on operational availability and can be linked directly to training and development objectives and outcomes.”

Sam Collins, head of Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Resilience, said: “By being fully immersed in the Simulation Centre experience, our officers’ benefit from working alongside emergency services partners while also developing and maintaining their own core skills should they be called into action to support our residents, businesses and visitors.”

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