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THE biggest live exercise of its kind ever held in Greater Manchester – Exercise Triton II – came to an end this morning (Friday, July 16, 2016) after months of intense planning.
Around 36 organisations across the region and nationally have been taking part in this major emergency planning exercise which saw dozens of emergency vehicles at sites across Greater Manchester and Chinook helicopters flying across the skies.
The complex scenario used was designed to test how local authorities, emergency services and other partners are equipped to tackle a major emergency working together.
Participating ‘players’ also included the military, government, health and utility companies, as well as voluntary agencies.
The exercise started on Monday, July 11, 2016, with ‘warnings’ from the Met Office regarding adverse weather and from the Environment Agency about the growing risk of regional flooding.
The emergency services, including Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS), and partners put procedures in place to ensure that where possible properties and critical infrastructure were protected and the public were warned. This theme was carried on through Tuesday, July 12 and Wednesday, July 13, 2016.
To ensure that both players and plans were tested to their full, a dramatic scenario developed on Thursday, July 14, whereby the bank on the Dove Stone Reservoir in Oldham was breached and water cascaded through a number of boroughs within Greater Manchester.
This meant that evacuation procedures had to be put in place and rest centres set up. Later in the day, a coach ploughed into the River Tame in a mock crash and a full-scale search and rescue operation was carried out.
Paul Argyle, GMFRS’ Deputy County Fire Officer and Chair of Greater Manchester Resilience Forum, said: “Exercise Triton II was a hugely complex emergency planning exercise and I would like to thank all of the agencies that have taken part this week.
"This was a very detailed scenario which had impacts across every part of the region and necessitated a full range of partners taking part.
"The scale of the destruction and chaos in the exercise was deliberately designed to test the region at full stretch.
"We have to do this to ensure we are well prepared to deal with any future real-life event or disaster that might occur – and it is also invaluable that those taking part got the chance to practise essential response skills that would be used during a major incident like this.
"I would particularly like to thank all the volunteers who took part in this exercise. The patience and understanding of local residents and communities on Thursday (as response plans went into effect at 'live' sites) was also greatly appreciated.
“All players have now been 'stood down'. Our next task is to evaluate how the exercise went, step by step. We will want to find out what worked well and crucially to identify and learn any lessons that could help us in the future in real-life situations. I would like to point out that incidents as extreme as this are highly unlikely, but ensuring we practice our response means that we are ready to respond to a variety of scenarios."