Emergency management specialists have used cutting-edge technology as they responded to a mock scenario of bushfires in the Surf Coast Shire, during a training exercise in Geelong yesterday.
Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) and CFA coordinated the exercise at the Geelong Incident Control Centre, to practice the Barwon South West region’s multi-agency emergency management response.
The exercise involved 50 participants from government agencies, including the State Emergency Service, Victoria Police, Fire Rescue Victoria, Department of Health and Surf Coast Shire.
Participants led an emergency response to the scenario of bushfires threatening coastal townships and summer traffic on the Great Ocean Road.
CFA South West Regional Commander Peter Creak said the exercise ws part of extensive preparation to ensure the region is ready for the fire season.
"Summer evacuations along the Great Ocean Road pose a significant challenge for emergency services due to increased visitation – but we're always prepared for that possibility," he said.
Testing procedures and systems, the group directed computer-simulated resources to the fires, plan evacuations and prepare emergency warnings.
The exercise utilised and tested software that is being developed by the CSIRO’s Data61 and RMIT, which integrates fire spread modelling, traffic data and predictions of human behaviour.
The Evacuation Decision Support System (DSS) shows simulated outcomes of different evacuation strategies using computer modelling, allowing decision-makers to compare evacuation strategies and determine the safest way forward.
The Evacuation DSS is currently under development and once completed will be a major advancement in the future management of evacuations.
Yesterday was the first time that emergency management specialists used the sophisticated system, that is being developed in collaboration with the Emergency Management Sector and funded by the Victorian Government’s Victorian Public Sector Innovation Fund.
FFMVic Emergency Management spokesperson Michael Harper said having access to new technology that tests the outcomes of our evacuation plans is a significant advancement in emergency management.
“The Evacuation DSS simulates realistic weather conditions, fire behaviour, traffic movement and human behaviour, giving participants a similar experience to responding to a real emergency,” he said.
- New technology was tested during the exercise.
- CFA, Forest Fire Management Victoria and other emergency services regularly practise incident management.