Disaster training for Shropshire Fire Service

The rubble strewn site at Doseley turned into a collapsed school to train firefighters.

A school collapse in Shropshire was the scenario facing firefighters at a special search and rescue training event held at a county building site.

Firefighters acted out the rescue of 11pupils from the rubble strewn site played by travel and tourism students from Telford College of Arts and Technology.

It was all part of "Exercise Demolition Man" launched by the county's fire training department as part of ongoing tuition to train all wholetime firefighters from Telford and Shrewsbury in search and rescue skills.

They were helped by the Urban Search and Rescue Team from Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service which would be called in for a real disaster in Shropshire. The West Midlands newly formed Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) paramedics were also in attendance.

Their rescue efforts were tested with the help of Simon Huntington, yard supervisor at F.P.McCann's pre-cast concrete manufacturing site at Doseley, Telford, who took three weeks to prepare the latest rescue site using redundant pipework.

Training instructor Neil Griffiths said: "We need sites such as this to make it as realistic as possible so that our firefighters receive the best training to prepare them for any type of disaster in which they need to rescue people."

Telford firefighters test out a listening device which will pick up the smallest of sounds to locate people trapped in collapsed buildings.

A call for silence rang out across the yard as firefighters used sensitive listening devices and a snake eye camera to locate a casualty before they could carefully dig him out.

This is the third of eight training sessions this year at the site where they have practised using special shoring tools and cutting equipment to simulate how they would locate trapped victims. The equipment is on the rescue tender based at Wellington fire station.

Since the World Trade Centre terrorist attacks, the Government has invested £56 million in the New Dimension project to equip 25 fire services so that they can regionally deal with terrorist attacks, natural disasters or chemical or nuclear incidents anywhere in the UK.

"In Shropshire we aim to have a two hour resilience so that we can deal with any situation and stablilise it while we wait for the arrival of specialist urban search and rescue teams from our nearest brigades at Hereford and Worcester or the West Midlands," said Neil, Watch Manager in the training department at Telford fire station.

11th May, 2009