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Major reservoir exercise simulates air crash

A huge exercise at Hanningfield Reservoir simulated a major air crash, a water rescue and search for casualties.

More than 80 firefighters took part in Exercise Submerged on Thursday October 29. The exercise looked at what would happen if a light aircraft carrying a parachute display team was forced to crash land in the reservoir.

Crews from across the County were joined by Police Officers and the reservoir’s rangers as they carried out a search and rescue operation.

There were eight fire engines and other specials, including the water rescue team, taking part in the exercise.

Sub Officer Marc Diggory, who organised the exercise, said: “It was an excellent opportunity for us to test how we would react to a major incident involving an air crash and water rescue. Initially crews rescued survivors they found floating in the reservoir and then a search took place across a large area to find the rest of the plane’s crew and passengers.

“The nature of the incident meant that we were able to test our command structure up to a very senior level. In real life this would have been a major incident with a large response by us and that is exactly what happened in the exercise.

“It all went really well and everyone taking part threw themselves into it in a very positive way and made sure that we got as much out of the exercise as possible.

“We learned a great deal and we’ll take a lot of lessons forward.”

Divisional Officer Jon Payne said: “Exercises like these are essential in enabling us to test our operational procedures, as well as providing opportunities for learning and identifying areas where we can improve.

“They do though require a significant amount of planning and effort, and as well as thanking everyone involved for their hard work, support and enthusiasm in participating in yesterday’s exercise, I would particularly like to thank Station Officer’s Marc Diggory and John Harris for the work they put into organising this exercise.

“My appreciation also goes to Essex and Suffolk Water for allowing us to hold this exercise at their premises.”

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