In what is understood to be the first UK event of its kind on this scale, a major regional response to terrorism exercise was given an additional degree of realism this month, when Argon Electronics provided Lancashire Fire Service with the ability to safely simulate the release of a radiological hazard.
Exercise DAKOTA was held for FRS and other blue light services in the North West region of England at the Washington Hall training centre on Saturday 12 February 2011. The scenario involved the simulated crash of an aircraft following a terrorist hijack, and the release of a radioactive material at the site.
Firefighters were initially alerted at 08:00 and upon arrival were greeted by the tail section of an aircraft which had crushed a car with passengers inside. Billowing black smoke led on to the main body of the aircraft, realistically manned by more ‘injured’ Casualty Union volunteers who had previously been ‘contaminated’ with safe simulant materials. Other simulation sources were strategically located in the wreckage.
Upon receiving ‘intelligence’ of potential radiological material release, specialist response units were then deployed. Equipped with Argon simulators in reflection of the real detectors used by UK fire services, personnel were able to realistically carry out their roles without risk of harm or damage to themselves, other participants, their equipment or the environment.