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Shoppers evacuated at Sunbury
Explosions Rock Sunbury!
Fire Engulfs Centre!
These may have been the headlines in today’s paper if this wasn’t an exercise.
Two and a half months ago, Sergeant Heath Merry of Sunbury Police approached Centre Management of Sunbury Square Shopping Centre, regarding some assistance in carrying out a multi agency evacuation exercise of the centre.
As Police and CFA were working on another project at the time, Sgt. Merry contacted Station Officer Adam Whitford of Sunbury Fire Brigade to see if they could work together and provide assistance.
After further discussions with Ambulance Victoria and the State Emergency Service, plans for a major evacuation exercise were put in place.
SO Whitford explains; “I was given the task of developing the scenario that involved all services. With that, Sgt. Merry and I met with Centre Management to outline our plans and response to the evacuation. Having grown up in a ‘Retailer’s household’, I was well aware of the impact it would have on the businesses in the centre, so I developed the scenario accordingly.”
With a date and time set by the centre to suit their store owner’s needs, Sunbury Fire Brigade was introduced to the exercise in early July with an expression of interest requested by the newly elected leaders of the Brigade Management Team.
“My intent with this exercise, after consultation with OIC Operations Officer David Clancy, was that we provide the new volunteer leadership with an opportunity to run a live multi agency interoperability exercise with the support and mentoring and OO Clancy, Station Officer Rick Flood, LFF Chris Moloney and myself” explains SO Whitford.
The scenario involved a member of the public finding various chemicals inside the centre, before raising the alarm through centre management. A perfect test to see that their protocols worked in an emergency situation.
With emergency services arriving after the call to “000”, a quick ‘snatch-and-grab’ rescue was performed inside the centre of an injured shopper. With firefighting and chemical decontamination undertaken, it also put Police and Ambulance Victoria through their protocols with patient welfare and investigation.
“Credit goes to our new volunteer Lieutenants Dave Rossiter, Jason Castles, and Damian Hudson for taking on the challenge of an unknown incident, whilst developing a new skill of interoperability with all the other emergency service agencies at the same time.”
The overall exercise was very successful for all involved, with the shopping centre successfully evacuated in under 8 minutes by the centre’s evacuation wardens. All agencies who took part were able to take some great learning opportunities away with them.
“Many thanks go to the members of Ambulance Victoria, Victoria Police, SES, as well as the newly formed Sunbury St. Johns Ambulance for providing ‘casualties’ and medical personnel. And we can’t forget the members of the brigade who gave up their time to provide assistance to the centre, with support from D-platoon, and LFF Reenie Cook for acting as Vicfire.”
Pictures by Blair Dellemijn – CFA Photographer.