The latest of our large-scale training exercises involved more than 100 volunteers playing the roles of casualties and evacuees.
West Midlands Fire Service joined forces with Coventry University and Coventry City Council, to provide a unique opportunity for students on a number of courses to put their learning into practice.
Just after 10am on Friday 5 October, some 10 fire engines and more than 50 firefighters responded to the training scenario of a fire in the city’s Civic Centre 4 high-rise building.
University students and city council staff members were evacuated from the tower to a nearby sports hall that had been turned into a rest centre. They were met, assessed and ‘treated’ by paramedic and forensic investigation undergraduates.
Meanwhile, at the university’s high-tech simulation centre, WMFS incident commanders, together with officers from other emergency services and the city council, were remotely immersed in the scenario to hone their command and decision-making skills.
WMFS Station Commander Samantha Lewis said: “We stage two large-scale exercises a week in the West Midlands. They help our firefighters and incident commanders to perfect the skills they would use at real incidents, in a testing but safe learning environment.
“On this occasion, being able to use the university’s simulation centre added a challenging, extra dimension to the day for our commanders We’re extremely grateful to everyone involved, throughout the planning stages and during the exercise itself.”
Chris Hiley, course director of the university’s Forensic Investigations degree, said: “This was a fantastic opportunity for our students to get a real-life experience of what it’s like to work with the emergency services during a major incident.
“As well as witnessing the blue-light services in action close-up, they actively worked with and helped them. It was an incredible insight for them and great preparation for their future careers as investigators, paramedics and emergency services workers.
“They will be analysing what happened during the exercise and getting even more out of it for weeks to come.”