Massive USAR Drill Simulates Earthquake Damage Throughout UK

Exercise Orion 2010 took place during September at various locations across England. It was centered on an earthquake scenario which was designed to simulate an event that has a very low likelihood in the United Kingdom (UK) and therefore is outside all...


All of the props utilized during the exercise had been designed to be reset by exercise staff, thus allowing an endless volume of scenario locations for all of the exercise participants. This capability provided all participants realistic challenges during the four days of activity, during which time there was a 48 hour period of continuous operations.

Program Participants

Coordination of all resources of the USAR component was monumental. The exercise began with over 20 units from Hampshire FRS responding to the incident. Once the magnitude of the incident was identified additional UK 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 participated in this exercise.

Once on scene, these teams worked in real time conditions and were often called upon to respond to various exercise scenarios during their time on site. Most of the teams utilized this event as a "full operational test" while others were testing "light equipment deployment." Modes of transportation varied from team to team as well as the team's ability to self sustain.

While many of the teams were 100 percent self-sufficient, others required assistance with team and equipment movement which provided a real time test of the UKs ability to receive outside help while managing a major incident in their home communities. Teams provide their own housing/encampments or base of operations (BoO) 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.

The exercise was also monitored by a team of evaluators whose mission was to observe and evaluate the interaction of the various teams deploying with the UK system. Evaluators came from a number of European Union countries and 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 in the field. This training program is based on four basic principles: " Certified evaluators have learn how to observe in an objective manner, how to apply the correct methods and how to make adequate diagnosis, " Certified evaluators are able to make clear evaluations by choosing the right words when giving their feedback, " Certified evaluators are capable of writing clear evaluation reports with a purposeful text structure " Certified evaluators are able to 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.

Exercise participants came from multiple agencies. There were large numbers of EMS and law enforcement personnel in every aspect of the exercise.

EMS Hazardous Area Response Teams (HART) worked side by side with USAR teams evaluating patients and assisting in patient packaging and removal efforts. Post September 11, the National Health Service 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 actively involved with victim identification through the work of the Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) teams. These teams were tasked with marking victim locations using sophisticated GPS systems. Police teams were also called upon to find evidence related to exercise scenario-based crime scenes. One challenge placed upon 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.

Exercise Management Framework