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Emergency training exercise at the NSC 22 April 2008

THE National Sports Centre was transformed into an emergency rest centre on Wednesday evening for a joint training exercise involving the Civil Defence Unit and DHSS Social Services Division.

More than 200 temporary beds were set up in the main sports halls to deal with evacuees following an imaginary incident in Laxey.

The scenario involved 180 people being forced to leave their homes and seek temporary shelter for the night.

A total of 40 Civil Defence personnel co-ordinated the training event, in conjunction with Social Services staff and volunteers, which was designed to test the capability of responding to a real-life emergency.

Members of the Women’s Institute and staff from the NSC were also on hand to provide their support and ensure the exercise progressed as smoothly as possible.

Evacuees were transported to the NSC on Groves Road in Douglas where they were met by volunteers and helped through the correct registration procedure. This paperwork is crucial in the event of a genuine emergency as the information gathered is sent to a casualty bureau.

Once the forms had been completed the evacuees, some playing the roles of people with special needs, were offered refreshments before being taken down to the rest centre where fold-away beds had been provided.

Assistant emergency planning officer Ian Young said:

‘The National Sports Centre is designated as one of the Island’s rest centres in the event of a major incident, but we had never used it for a training exercise before. ‘The exercise went very well. There are lessons to be learnt, as is always the case with an event on this scale, and some areas can and will be improved upon.
‘But overall I was delighted with the results as it proved we have the capability of turning the NSC into a major rest centre if necessary. I’d like to thank everybody who contributed on the night, either in an official capacity or by playing the role of an evacuee. That support is tremendously important, particularly for such a big training exercise, as the only way to practice is with the help of volunteers. This was a fine example of several different organisations joining forces to improve community safety in the Isle of Man.’

Mike Williamson, Social Services Duty and Emergency Response Manager, also expressed his appreciation for the efforts of everybody involved.

He said:

‘This event marked the culmination of the development of a close working relationship with colleagues in Civil Defence and volunteers from the Women’s Institute.
‘It is hoped that Civil Defence and Social Services will repeat a large-scale exercise such as this on an annual basis, with smaller events being staged throughout the year. This is all with a view to maintaining and improving the knowledge and skills already learnt by our highly valued staff and volunteers.’

A multi-agency debriefing will take place on Wednesday to consider action points arising from the event.

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