Our Public Services students generally aspire to become part of emergency services such as police, fire, or ambulance or the armed forces. Faced with the opportunity to take part in an actual exercise alongside serving members of the services they hope to join, there is no surprise that we had many takers!

The multi-agency exercise is a ‘live-play’ exercise designed to test the emergency services in Kent in response to a significant emergency incident in a public place. Due to the scarce availability of training locations and reliable volunteers, these large scale ‘live-play’ exercises are therefore extremely rare.

The exercise forms an integral part of a normal training programme and is a necessary and important test of the emergency services contingency plans. The students’ participation in this exercise provided invaluable training and experience for all participants, making it as life-like as possible.

Attacks in the UK and abroad remind us all of the terrorist threat we face, which in the UK is currently ‘Severe’ meaning an attack is ‘highly likely’.

This exercise is designed to test the response of the emergency services to a terrorist attack at an iconic shopping venue. The ‘live-play’ exercise took place over several hours. It involved a full multi-agency emergency response to the incident reported, which allowed responses to be effectively assessed. The scenario included police, fire and ambulance emergency services. Together, they needed to respond dynamically to the situation. Students from Public Services played a variety of roles during the exercise, such as hostages and bomb victims as well as assisting the work carried out by services such as paramedics tending to ‘victims’.

Public Services lecturer Darren Everitt is a retired police officer who spent 22 years on the firearms’ department and was a national firearms’ instructor. Darren explained “I would plan training scenarios and exercises to train and test the tactics of current authorised police firearms officers. However, good, safe, realistic locations where tactics and training could be used appropriately, were always difficult to locate and frequently, we relied on military bases and their resources. So, to have the opportunity of a real life, working venue at an iconic public site, for the emergency services to practice their tactics and having large numbers of members of the public role playing, is too good an opportunity for our students to miss. Exercises like this allow the emergency services to carry out their role as realistically as possible but it also allows the volunteers to get a glimpse of what it really is like to be in an incident and how effective the services are. For the Public Services’ students it was a wonderful chance to see their prospective employers at work.”

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