On Saturday 19th March the Liverpool RRT provided refreshments & lunch for all workers and volunteers at the Merseyside 2019 ModEX exercise.
EU ModEX is a European Union initiative to train Urban Search & Rescue crews (USAR) so they are prepared for major incidents, including natural disasters.
“In 2019 five exercises for Civil Protection Modules and other Response Capacities will be conducted throughout Europe. Urban Search and Rescue Modules, Emergency Medical Teams and other Response capacities will have the chance to train their preparedness for a deployment in the context of a full-scale exercise” This event was one of the 5.
The main team of rescuers was the Southern France USAR team, including search dogs, medical doctors and the main search & rescue unit.
There was also a fake media team on site, who were acting like the press and getting in the way! They prowled around and got some excellent footage which they have kindly shared with us.
In this simulation there had been a major earthquake and a section of the Birkenhead tunnel had collapsed trapping 70 cars and their occupants…
Before the rescue operation began, we were given a brief tour of the first section of the tunnel. There were many false mounds of rubble, but the only way through them was for the rescuers to drill through the large concrete slabs placed at the base of each mound.
The rescuers used dogs and thermal cameras to find survivors, before extracting them and attending to their injuries. Those involved in the accident were mostly volunteers from the Priestly college in Warrington, plus some actors.
The previous day, Estonian and British teams had been practicing the same exercise, and all 3 teams were being assessed on their efficiency, organisation and techniques of the rescue. The 3 teams were also involved in rescues at the Croxteth Training and Development Academy the same weekend.
The tunnel was divided into 5 sections, one of them being the underground refuge area, each separated by large mounds of rubble. The survivors were spread out between all 5 areas, so the French team had to work quickly to find the critically injured personnel, whilst those not so badly injured complained of being ignored!
Did you know the Birkenhead tunnel has seven emergency refuges below the road deck, each capable of holding 180 people? Each refuge is 21 metres long and 3 metres wide, with fire resistant doors, a supply of bottled water, a toilet, and a video link to the Mersey Tunnels Police control room!
Once the survivors emerged from the tunnel, they proceeded to indulge in a signature RRT burger and other light refreshments.
The French rescue team weren’t technically allowed any, as the EU stipulates they must be self-sufficient for 72 hours on overseas rescue efforts. However after the French team leader tasted a burger, he agreed to let the rest of his team tuck in.
Towards the end of the exercise a team from the Home Office turned up unexpectedly to observe how the exercise was progressing.
Credit to the EU Modex team for the video of the day. eu-modex.eu