On Friday 17 February, Unitas was asked to join three teams from Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service, based at Longton, Hanley and Sandyford, on a safety exercise at Lady Bennett Court in Longton.
These exercises take place on a regular basis to give the service and its’ officers the chance to plan for large and/or dangerous situations. The results of exercises such as this can be vital when planning and risk assessing. They can ensure public and Fire Officer safety when dealing with crisis scenarios and can ensure that when the need arises for Fire Officers of more than one station to work together, they have plans in place.
Unitas takes fire safety extremely seriously. In every single job we take on, from a responsive repair to a major planned project the health and safety of our customers, staff and other city residents and users is a key priority at all times.
Being at these exercises gives us the opportunity to observe and learn. By studying what the emergency services require to respond quickly and effectively in an emergency, we can assess how we utilise space when laying out car parks, power sources, water points and other vital services.
On this particular exercise, Fire Officers were given the scenario of arriving at Lady Bennet Court to find various casualties with breathing difficulties. Volunteers were used to play the roles of either casualties or witnesses to enable to scene to play out in the same way that a normal job would.
Due to the nature of the incident, a Decontamination Unit was brought in and portable showers set up. The officers then had to practice setting up safety zoning, decontaminating the casualties and being able to safely disrobe and dispose of any contaminated clothing or equipment. This all had to play out as it would in a real-life situation to ensure the Officers were fully trained and prepared.
In addition to the way the Officers deal with the situation as it happens, one of the most important aspects of these exercises is the debriefing. Everyone involved then inputs their thoughts so that if an event like this happens in the future, teams are as prepared as they can possibly be. For Unitas, our role in the debriefing is to ensure we learn as much as we can about what the emergency services need from us. From there we can make necessary changes to building layouts but also the Property Information (GERDA) boxes kept at buildings like Lady Bennett Court.