Exercise Orion 2010 took place during the first week of September 2010 at locations across England. It was centered on an earthquake scenario designed to simulate an event that has a very low likelihood of occurring in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and therefore is outside all normal...
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Coordination of all resources of the USAR component was monumental. The exercise began with more than 20 HFRS units responding to the incident. Once the magnitude of the incident was identified, additional U.K. USAR resources were summoned to the scene. As the event escalated, the need for additional assistance was transmitted. USAR teams from Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Sweden and the United Arab Emirates also participated in the exercise. Once on scene, these teams worked under real-time conditions and were often called on to respond to various scenarios during their time on site. Most of the teams used the event as a "full operational test," while others tested "light equipment deployment." Modes of transportation varied from team to team as did each team's ability to self sustain.
While many of the teams were 100% self sufficient, others required assistance with team and equipment movement. This provided a real-time test of the U.K.'s ability to receive outside help while managing a major incident in its home communities. Teams provide their own housing/encampments or bases of operations at one centralized location. An overnight tent city was set up on what was the concrete foundation and surrounding lawn area of a recently demolished structure.
Also participating in every aspect of the exercise were large numbers of EMS and law enforcement personnel. EMS Hazardous Area Response Teams (HART) worked side by side with USAR teams evaluating patients and assisting in patient packaging and removal efforts. Post 9/11, the National Health Service in England has funded each regional ambulance service to train and equip paramedics to wear breathing apparatus and join firefighters in the "hot zone" to stabilize trapped casualties. The value of having pre-trained members of the EMS community capable of working side by side with USAR personnel in the rescue effort was well identified during this exercise.
Law enforcement was involved with victim identification through the work of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) teams that marked victim locations using global positioning systems (GPS). Police teams were also called on to find evidence related to exercise scenario-based crime scenes. One challenge placed on the police teams was the recovery of a knife (a possible crime scene item) from a flooded crypt inside the walls of the fort. This situation created a need for USAR, police technicians and police SCUBA personnel to work together to complete the given tasks.
The exercise was monitored by a team of evaluators whose mission was to observe and evaluate the interaction of the various teams deploying with the U.K. system. Members of this team of evaluators came from a number of European Union countries. Evaluators received training through the Netherlands Institute of Safety (Nibra). The Emergency Program Manager Master Class for Evaluators was used to prepare the evaluators for this exercise. The advanced training created a well-organized and functionally efficient team. This training program is based on four basic principles:
- Certified evaluators must learn how to observe in an objective manner, how to apply the correct methods and how to make adequate diagnoses
- Certified evaluators can make clear evaluations by choosing the right words when giving feedback
- Certified evaluators are capable of writing clear evaluation reports with a purposeful text structure
- Certified evaluators conduct themselves in a professional manner and respond as an authority in conflict management.
In addition to this week-long training, a one-day short course was provided for tactical evaluators from the USAR community who operated in direct proximity of the responding team. This training provided a consistent evaluation process to the entire exercise.
The U.K. uses a command structure similar to the Incident Command System (ICS) that is used in the United States. The U.K. system is designed to manage incidents involving a large number of agencies that need to cooperate and support each other. Having a defined system ensures that all agencies understand their roles and responsibilities in the combined response.
Within this framework, the management of the emergency response and recovery effort is undertaken at one or more of three ascending levels, which are defined by the differing functions rather than by specific rank, grade or status: