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Multi-agency training exercise tests emergency response preparedness

Date: 7 May 2024

Hundreds of emergency responders from ambulance, fire and police services and voluntary teams joined forces on Monday 29th April to test their response to and preparedness for an extreme weather incident in Hertfordshire.

emergency responders staff training exercise

Operation Frostbite, which took months of detailed planning, saw around 300 people attend the Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead. The initial part of the event consisted of continuing professional development (CPD) led by the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (HFRS), Essex and Herts Air Ambulance Trust (EHAAT), Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire Emergency Critical Care Service (BHECCS) and World Extreme Medicine (WEM).

Alongside this, equipment and vehicle providers demonstrated current and future strategies for optimising our response to patients in extreme conditions.

Attendees were then able to observe as responders carried out a simulated rescue operation of five patients from a car located on the snow centre slope in dark and snowing conditions. With the exercise providing environmental and communication challenges, the aim of the exercise was to test the response of all emergency services and their partners under extreme weather conditions.

EEAST’s response consisted of four ambulance crews, a Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), an Operational Commander, a loggist and a Communications Tactical Adviser (CTA). The EEAST team worked closely with fire and police colleagues alongside Mid-Shires Search and Rescue, EHAAT & BHECCS to rescue, treat and transport the patients.

Throughout the exercise, responders followed the JESIP (Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles) model, which is designed to improve the way emergency services work together when responding to major incidents.

Melissa Dowdeswell, Chief of Clinical Operations at EEAST, said:

"Operation Frostbite was a clear example of why multi-agency working and collaboration is vital in the life-saving role that emergency services play. The training exercise was a fantastic opportunity for all the blue light services and other partners to enhance their skills and training so that we can get it right in a real time scenario.

"I am incredibly proud of the role that ambulance staff played in the exercise, and I know that they enjoyed the opportunity to put their training to the test. I want to thank everyone who organised the event and took part in it, and thank The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead for allowing us to use their facilities."

The event was sponsored by Ortus Group and Simbodies.

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