Emergency services stretched to the limit on exercise

Firefighters were met with scenes of devastation last week – but it was all part of a training exercise to test emergency workers to the limit.

Exercise Endeavour took place at the headquarters of Tyne & Wear Fire and Rescue on Friday.

The yard had been transformed into the scenes of a building collapse at a Metro train station, a bus collision, a fire at a retail unit, an apartment block collapse involving an underground flooded car park and an office block collapse.

Urban search and rescue teams from Tyne & Wear, West Yorkshire, London and Hampshire joined specialist teams to deal with life threatening flooding issues and hazardous materials.

Area manager of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Chris Lowther, said: “Exercise Endeavours simulates the scale of devastation faced by emergency workers when major incidents or natural disasters occur.

“Exercises like this are invaluable as they allow our specialist teams to put their skills and knowledge to the test under realistic conditions.”

The exercise ran for 56 hours and also included government agencies, Northumbria Police and the North East Ambulance Service’s hazardous ambulance response team.

Fire officer Lowther added: “It is fantastic to see the commitment from all of the regional and national emergency response teams who took part and worked throughout the weekend. We do this to make sure that we can keep the public safe.”

The exercise included more than 150 firefighters, as well as 100 staff and volunteers.

Victims of the disasters were played by volunteers, with make-up used to make the scenes and injuries as realistic as possible.

Northumbria Police Superintendant Andy McDyer said: “Training exercises such as this one provide a valuable opportunity to work alongside partner agencies to share information and skills.

“It also allows our officers to familiarise themselves with the practices and protocols of other organisations to help us work together more effectively in the future.”