Transport
London Waterloo Station, the location of our scenario

Exercise Unified Response – a brief reflection

04 March 2016

Exercise Unified Response – a brief reflection

We, the London Resilience Partnership, have spent this week involved in our largest exercise to date. This has been a brilliant opportunity to test our response and recovery arrangements in conjunction with live play. Follow @Ldn_prepared for photos and insight. You may have seen updates on BBC news – keep any eye out for more great footage! Our thoughts were (and continue to be) with those affected by the events at Didcot Power Station and a minutes silence was held in respect.

The exercise began on Monday morning, where London Fire Brigade were called to a building collapse at London Waterloo Station and declared a Major Incident (in line with our Strategic Coordination Protocol), alongside British Transport Police, Metropolitan Police and London Ambulance Service. We supported the Partnership in activating it’s individual and multi-agency plans and procedures and worked together to manage the impacts.

On day two we focused wider, with meetings of the Mass Fatalities Coordination Group (led by a Coroner) and the Humanitarian Assistance Steering Group (led by a local authority social services director), among other groups, to ensure that London is providing the best possible care to all of those impacted. The Recovery Management Cell was also established, in order to prepare for the emergency services handing over to the recovery effort. This early establishment allows the Cell to put London in in a good position to return to normality, with appreciation of legal and finance, environment and infrastructure, business and economy, health and welfare and community recovery impacts. Responders from across the M25 in Kent and across the country arrived to add support to the response effort.

We also recognised the need to think wider than the direct implications of the building collapse and bridge the gap between the ongoing response effort and the implementation of recovery activities. In order to achieve this, local authorities were handed the chair role for the Strategic Coordination Group and identified strategic objectives (around health, transport, economy etc) against planning assumptions (I.e. how long will we be responding for and for how long impacts will be felt). Essentially this is our way of saying that, whist the response continues and saving life is our primary focus, we need to understand and mitigate the impacts to London and beyond.

The exercise continued with support from Italy, Hungary and Cyprus to urban search and rescue efforts, to ensure that responders could continue to work their way through the rubble. This was a brilliant opportunity to widen the experience and pictures will show you the environment they had to work in.

This was an amazing experience made possible by the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism (who part-funded the exercise), the efforts of London Fire Brigade to arrange the exercise and the London Resilience Partnership (supported by partners and numerous other organisations who have planned, delivered and participated over the period of more than a year, to make this opportunity count. On a personal note, I find that exercises give us the essential opportunity to test our arrangements in a safe environment and identify learning to carry forward, as things rarely go as expected… no matter how much effort we put into planning.

The action doesn’t stop here though! Observers (practitioners and partners from across a wide public, private and academic spectrum) have been watching us closely in order to facilitate a detailed evaluation process to that we can learn from this experience and put ourselves in a stronger position, should we be called upon for real. It is essential that we embed this learning in our plans and organisational practices, so that we can utilise all of our experiences and I know that this will be useful as we move forward as a Partnership and continue our cycle of reviewing plans and procedures, including strategic coordination, recovery and the overall Partnership strategy.

Weather and flooding

Met Office 

After a mostly dry and bright day today, remaining cold for the London area through the coming weekend and into the start of next week with a mix of rain/sleet/snow showers at times, especially through Saturday and at first on Sunday. At this stage, these showers are not expected to cause any significant resilience issues with any snow giving minimal accumulations and that largely over hills. It’s possible that short-notice warnings for ice may be required over the coming days, depending on the timing and nature of any rain/sleet/snow that falls.

Further ahead, a band of rain/sleet/snow is expected to cross the capital during Wednesday, but again at this stage no major issues are anticipated.

View all weather Alerts and Warnings on the Met Office website.

Environment Agency

The Flood Guidance statement is currently GREEN for London. There are no flood alerts or warnings in force for London. The Live EA Flood Warnings Map has up to date information on river and tidal flooding.

Air Pollution

Air pollution levels are forecast to be Low.

Health

Watch this animation on how cold weather can affect our health http://bit.ly/1OAhWrG

Terrorist Threat Levels

The threat levels are unchanged

  • International terrorism – Severe (an attack is highly likely).
  • Northern Ireland related terrorism to Great Britain – Moderate (an attack is possible but not likely).

Transport

There are planned closures on the District and Piccadilly lines in addition to the London Overground. Check the TfL status updates for the latest updates.

That's it for this week, have a safe weekend.

Tom, London Resilience Officer