Earthquake Drill Puts Students Through Their PacesAn earthquake exercise has been held by the University of Portsmouth and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service.

Students, who are studying for their masters degrees in crisis disaster management, also had to deal with bomb scares, kidnappings and civil war in the 42-hour training drill.

There were 28 postgraduates playing roles with the UN as they faced an accelerated crisis unfolding before them.

The group stayed on site at the Institute of Marine Sciences to deal with the arrival of international relief with Hampshire’s Specialist and Technical Response – formerly known as Urban Search and Rescue – and later UK International Search and Rescue (ISAR).

The exercise started on Tuesday at 10am and ended today (Thursday) at 2pm.

Students were woken up throughout the first night with security issues and updated information before being forced to move base to Fort Widley in Portsmouth.

This is where the search and rescue operation was carried out among crumbling buildings and debris.

The team then had to co-ordinate relief efforts with authorities such as the World Health Organisation and Unicef and try to establish a plan for long term aid and recovery.

Rehomed at Baker Barracks, Thorney Island, the group were then told the situation had deteriorated and fighting had broken out between different groups.

Issues such as refugees, civil war, health and infrastructure all had to be dealt with while ensuring all actions were put in place according to UN policy and standards.

The exercise also included London Fire Brigade, West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service and Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service as well as Search and Rescue Assistance in Disasters (SARAID) and Serve On.

It was also attended by South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and a Maltese team working with Serve On.

Station manager Phil Crook said: “These exercise are invaluable as they give us the chance to practice with groups that rarely get to meet.

“It is also useful for the students to see what this situation is really like.

“Some of those who have previously been on these courses have been developed in their jobs where they are now involved in making these kind of decisions.”

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service has been working with the university to run these exercises for the past five years.

About 500 people were involved in this drill.

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