Police, fire and ambulance at Stansted Airport to test terror response

A LARGE scale emergency exercise to test a response to a terror incident has taken place at Stansted Airport - the first UK airport to undertake an exercise on this sca

More than 200 Essex Police officers, fire and ambulance crews and airport staff were given training to battle chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats.

The event, last Thursday, was part of the government’s national programme to prepare the UK for a CBRN incident and was the culmination of three years planning and preparation.

Stansted’s fire manager Daren Barthram said: “Exercises like this are very useful to test how different organisations respond in rare but challenging circumstances.

“It gave us a unique opportunity to test the plans and procedures in place for dealing with a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear incident.”

The scenario focused on a plane which had diverted into Stansted following reports of a powdery substance being found on-board. Volunteers from the British Red Cross and students from Chelmsford College played the role of casualties on board the aircraft.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service divisional officer Terry Povey said: “We worked as part of a multi agency response to get the passengers safely off the plane, establish exactly which chemical had been released and deal appropriately with the incident.

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“It tested our mass decontamination procedures as well as giving us initial preparation into how to deal with a terrorist incident at Stansted Airport.

“The exercise was extremely useful and we all learned a great deal from the exercise. The communication between agencies went particularly well.”

The exercise saw the East of England Ambulance Service provide two special operations response teams in five a ambulance incident support vehicles along with the hazardous area response training team.

They worked closely with fire and police officers to establish a safe area for a decontamination suite to be erected, with staff donning full protective suits prior to receiving patients.

A spokesman of the service said: “The exercise was successful with all players benefitting from the day, and areas for future development identified.”