On Thursday night 14 voluntary disaster responders left Serve On’s headquarters in Salisbury to undertake five days of challenging scenarios, taking them across South West England. These fake earthquake exercises are set up to provide them with the preparation they will need when facing the real thing.
The team left Serve On’s Headquarters in Salisbury at 11.30pm and drove to Dartmoor, where they walked through the night in pouring rain, confronted by scenarios including an extremely challenging simulated hostile roadblock by local villagers, which they had to negotiate their way through.
On Friday morning at the River Dart they were able to put their water rescue skills into practice upon encountering some ‘casualties’. The trainees were tested on their personal and team skills ensuring the casualties were brought to safety.
Following the water rescue #FakeQuake brought the team back to the Exeter area where they were subjected to a particularly tense airport situation, very much like a team could encounter during a real life deployment. Spending the night in the Exeter area the team will continue to work through the night, with very little sleep. An early start is planned for Saturday morning when the team, directing and support staff will travel down the A38 to the Plymouth area for yet more arduous exercises, including extracting casualties from a simulation earthquake zone, and scaling the heights of the Tamar Bridge. They return overnight to the Exmouth area to continue the search for survivors.
All these scenarios have been carefully designed by members of Serve On who have already been assessed to work in disaster zones and have previously deployed internationally. Each task has been set up not only to test the competency of different skill sets but also to help each team member bond and come together with a variety of backgrounds and skills.
Ahead of the deployment exercise last night, Chris Taylor, a creative entrepreneur from London who is part of the team said “It’s not just about my training, it’s about my team’s training. I think between us we have a good selection of skills and I believe in the people around me and myself.”