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Exercise tests Sovereign risk
One of Victoria’s best loved tourist attractions, Ballarat’s Sovereign Hill, was the scene of an exercise to test emergency response plans this week (Wednesday, 29 May).
Emergency services joined state and local government agencies and Sovereign Hill management to walk through a frightening scenario involving multiple explosions and a mine collapse trapping visitors.
Sovereign Hill CEO Jeremy Johnson said it was an invaluable chance to ensure authorities could respond in an integrated way in the unlikely event of an incident.
"The purpose is to really test out our emergency response as a collective group of authorities, should a major incident occur at a place like Sovereign Hill,” Mr Johnson said.
“We’ve seen in recent years the Beaconsfield Mine disaster, the Christchurch earthquake which necessitated a huge response from the authorities and we want to test that out here at Sovereign Hill.
CFA Grampians Region Director Don Kelly said Exercise ‘That’s Gold’ was a relatively extreme scenario aimed at forging stronger relationships between agencies.
“Exercises always show incidents are far more complex than first thought and you need far more people and resources to manage them properly and that’s hopefully what comes out of exercises like the one here today,” Mr Kelly said.
“Events like this, the reality of working with other agencies whether it be fires, crashes or terrorism, all of the emergency agencies will work together and that’s why I believe we’ve been so successful in combatting those incidents.”
Ballarat City Council CEO Anthony Schinck said while everybody hoped the lessons learned from the exercise would never be needed, the community could have confidence agencies are well prepared.
“Today is really about testing our plans,” Mr Schinck said.
“There is no better way of testing a plan than to use a practical and real exercise to do that and to bring the people into the room who would be practically here and how we work together to understand any shortfalls or weaknesses…[and] allow us to tighten the plan up, test its robustness to ensure we know how to effectively work with one another.”
The exercise was jointly organised by CFA Operations Officer Bernie Fradd and Sovereign Hill’s Tracey Lewis-Jones.