Major Emergency Exercise Taking Place This Evening

By the end of this evening, around ninety islanders will have taken part in an exercise that will prepare them for a major aviation disaster at St Mary’s airport.

This morning, a selection of first responders, community leaders and invited locals will learn about what they’d encounter and what they’d be expected to do if there was a major fatality.

A group also attended a talk in the Old Wesleyan Chapel last night.

Ivor Lloyd is a crime scene manager for Devon and Cornwall police and he spoke with local responders last night to explain what would happen if an incident involved fatalities. Ivor says the workshop will show how an established protocol would need to be followed in the aftermath of an incident, including the identification of victims and the collection of forensic samples.

Ian Arrow is the coroner for Scilly. He says the exercise gives him a chance to get to know the islands’ responders better and ensure a good working relationship in the event of a real emergency. But he says he’s impressed by the level of preparation already in place and is confident any event would be dealt with well.

Ian says he would be responsible for investigating any deaths and identifying the deceased quickly is vital, so the next of kin can be informed.

This evening, the emergency services, airport staff and volunteers will mock-up an air crash at the airport and deal with a realistic set of issues. The exercise will involve people from various agencies including the Council of the Isles of Scilly, police, fire and rescue service and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.

Howard Cole from the airport says it’ll be a late night for many of the participants, as they’ll go through a ‘hot debrief’ after the exercise while it’s still fresh in the memory, and there will also be a formal debrief later this month to analyse all aspects of the response.

Howard says the whole exercise has taken a lot of organisation over the past six months.

Rhona Holland, who looks after emergency planning for the Council, has helped create the scenario for this evening’s drill and she says there will be umpires from the different agencies taking part who will observe the performance and push their people in the right direction if needed.

This key exercise should help to ensure that the islands are fully prepared for a real life emergency, so if you see major activity after the airport shuts at 7pm, you’ll know it’s just a drill.