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Emergency services exercise tackling chemical attacks at iconic London venues

News   •   Sep 26, 2019 20:00 BST

[Image: London Ambulance Service during exercise]

The Metropolitan Police, along with emergency service partners and staff from three iconic London venues, have worked together to carry out a one day exercise that included the live play of three simultaneous Chemical, Biological, Radioactive, Nuclear [CBRN] attacks at London locations with very high public attendances.

The scenario provided valuable learning both in terms of the nature of the incident and the challenges brought about by a multiple location attack.

Although the UK’s threat level remains at severe, the exercise was not carried out in response to any specific intelligence or threat.

Metropolitan Police Chief Superintendent Dawn Morris said: “This is the first time we have carried out a multi-venue CBRN exercise covering simultaneous attacks and the experience and learning gained from this is invaluable.

“The exercise tested our joint response, investigation and recovery to dealing with a CBRN exposure in fast moving, heavy footfall venues in different parts of the capital and gave everyone taking part an understanding what would be required should we ever face this type of challenge for real.

“It also gave us the opportunity to highlight the advice to ‘Remove, remove, remove’ in the event of exposure to a hazardous substance.

“This exercise was not planned in response to a specific threat in terms of locations or hazardous materials – it was purely to test the reactions of those who would need to deliver in the event that London was under attack.

“I am very grateful to the management of Twickenham, Westfield & Kings Cross Estate for their contribution not only to the event itself, but also the organisation and planning for the testing which was extensive.

“The exercise plan aimed to keep disruption to the public to a minimum, however, I would like to thank anyone affected for their patience and co-operation while we continue to ensure that we are as prepared as we can be to protect Londoners no matter what.”

The scenario involved police, fire and ambulance staff responding together when a chemical substance was used at Twickenham, Westfield and Kings Cross Station. This provided the opportunity for testing of hazardous material equipment and the deployment of decontamination procedures.

Staff from British Transport Police, London Ambulance Service and London Fire Brigade also took part in the exercise.

The scenario and exercise was developed by the Met’s Protective Security Operations Command, under the leadership of the unit Commander, Chief Superintendent Dawn Morris. This exercise had approximately 900 people taking part across the live exercise play areas and the MPS Specialist Operations Room.

Chief Supt Morris added: “On a daily basis, we join with our emergency services partners to provide a fluid and effective emergency response in crisis situations, but we cannot allow ourselves to be complacent. Self-challenge and testing are vital to ensure that whatever comes our way, we are ready to protect those living working and visiting London.”

Superintendent Chris Horton from British Transport Police, said: “This was an extremely realistic and immersive exercise, that truly tested how British Transport Police and our partners in London would respond to a CBRN incident which impacts the busy rail network.

“Our Force plays vital role disrupting terrorism throughout London, and partnership exercises such as this are important at improving London’s response to a significant incident.

“I would like to extend my appreciation to all those that took part in the exercise, including our staff, other emergency services and our partners in the rail industry for their close cooperation.”

Khadir Meer, Chief Operating Officer at London Ambulance Service said: “Patient care is at the forefront of everything London Ambulance Service does. As part of this, it’s vital we work with our emergency services colleagues to test our plans, training and response to a complex multi sited CBRN incident.

“The exercise was managed as if it were a real incident by our Operations Centre and full Command Team, from operational through to strategic levels. This was a fantastic learning opportunity for all those involved.”

LFB Assistant Commissioner for Special Operations Graham Ellis, said: “London’s emergency services constantly work together to plan, test and exercise for a wide range of high threat challenges, including major incidents. London’s firefighters will invariably be at the scene of any major incident in the capital within minutes, and they are highly trained and well equipped to undertake rescue operations and manage a broad range of hazardous situations.

“Joint emergency services exercises aim to test not only how London’s fire, police and ambulance services perform individually, but critically how they react, respond and work together to reduce risk to the public and safely resolve incidents.

“The London Resilience Group also play a critical role in the strategic co-ordination of the response to any major incident in the capital, with a sharp focus on the recovery phase and an emphasis on keeping London operating and minimising disruption to those who live, work or visit the capital.

“Today’s exercise was designed to be as realistic as possible, with multiple scenes of operations involving several hundred firefighters and officers working alongside partners from the Police and Ambulance service.

“It is vital that we are not complacent, and we will be carefully considering the learning from today’s exercise to ensure that we continue to improve our collective ability to respond safely and effectively to any challenge, reduce risk to the public who we serve and ensure a speedy recovery following any major incident.”

Mark Lynch, Venue Director at Twickenham Stadium said: “The RFU and Twickenham Stadium take the safety and security of the teams, our spectators, staff and visitors very seriously.

We work closely with the Metropolitan Police and the security and emergency services to ensure our policies and procedures are up to date and follow best practice. Training exercises such as this are vital to ensure we robustly test our processes, continually improve and provide the highest levels of safety both inside and outside the Stadium.”

Robert Evans, CEO of King’s Cross, said: “The King’s Cross Estate was delighted to support the Metropolitan Police and other emergency services in this important and successful exercise, to test our response to major incidents in London.”