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Staged emergency exercise in Bexley sees "14 dead" in mock train collision

PUBLISHED: 12:28 27 March 2012 | UPDATED: 18:18 27 March 2012

Bexley council staged a mock incident to test its response

Bexley council staged a mock incident to test its response

Archant

Emergency workers and council staff had to cope with the aftermath of a simulated train crash which left 14 "dead" and 56 other survivors in a staged mock emergency in Bexley today.

It was designed to put staff through their paces and test the borough’s preparedness should a major disaster strike in Olympic year.

The fictional exercise was held at Bexley council offices and the scenario saw the 8.29 from Dartford to Charing Cross and the 8.29 from Bexleyheath to Gravesend collide.

The survivors from the mock accident gathered at Hall Place, Bexley, before being taken to Bexleyheath’s council offices where they were met by police, council staff, St John’s Ambulance officials and rail officers.

Bexley police Chief Inspector Paul Warnett said: “I’ve been in Bexley police for 15 years and we’ve never done an exercise on this scale before, but with the Olympics and torch relay this year it’s important to prepare for the worst case scenario.

“This exercise was about learning what we’re doing well and what we need to improve.”

The council had recruited more than 100 volunteers to act out roles and they were given characters and scripts to make the experience as real as possible, including fake names, addresses and next of kin.

The volunteers thought the exercise was a worthwhile experience.

Carole Alleway, 63, of Horsham Road, Bexley, said: “They’ve taken every little detail into account.

“It’s hard to be completely accurate because in a real-life situation you wouldn’t be warned but everyone took their roles seriously.”

Harvinder Gill, 54, of St Helen’s Road, Erith, said: “It was well-organised, the services were very quick in identifying what was wrong with people and identifying the next course of action.”

Bexley’s emergency planning officer Kevin Toal said: “We based the exercise on the recommendations which came from the 7/7 disaster.

“Firstly, that it was important to train police officers at a lower level so they are prepared. And secondly, that anyone who was uninjured was just told to go on their way.”

To add a dose of realism to the morning, the police realised regular statements along with tweets connected to the incident and half-hourly press briefings.

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