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Emergency services test crisis response
Firefighters were called to reports of a chemical smell on a train which was affecting hundreds of passengers as part of a counter terrorism exercise this morning (Sat May 16).
Crews from across the Ballarat area took part in the exercise at V/Line’s Depot at Ballarat East.
CFA District 8 Station Officer James Wong said the aim of the exercise was to better prepare brigades in the Golden Plains Shire to respond to major hazmat incidents.
“Firefighters can often be first responders to incidents of this nature so we need to be well prepared,” he said.
“It’s important to stress that this exercise was not in response to any specific terrorism threat in Victoria, this was simply about being prepared for any emergency – even seemingly standard incidents which have the potential to develop into something more serious.
“This exercise gave the firefighters a chance to practise their hazmat and decontamination response which is not the type of incident that occurs very often.”
The exercise provided an opportunity to assess and improve Victoria’s preparedness plans and emergency response procedures.
“There was a lot to be learnt from the exercise. It highlighted the importance of all agencies working together seamlessly in all environments and all types of emergencies,” Mr Wong said.
“These types of emergencies can have a significant impact on the community so it’s important that we consider their needs in terms of preparedness, prevention, response and recovery.”
As well as CFA, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Emergency Management Victoria, the State Government and V/Line were involved in the exercise.
V/Line Chief Executive Theo Taifalos said they were keen to be involved in the training exercises.
“If there was an incident on one of our V/Line trains, it’s extremely important CFA and other emergency services can respond with confidence,” Mr Taifalos said.
“It’s also an opportunity for our staff members to test their emergency response in the regions.”
Mr Wong said the exercise also highlighted the need for timely, accurate and relevant public information, especially with the widespread use of social media and online reporting.
“An incident of this nature would go viral on social media so it’s important for our crews to not only learn to deal with the situation on the ground, but also provide up-to-date information to the community.”
The same exercise will be held with different brigades at V/Line’s Geelong West Depot on Saturday 30 May, 2015.
Images by Blair Dellemijn, Joel Hughes & Keith Pakenham.