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Major air crash exercise tests emergency services in Silvertown

Millenium Mills, the site of the emergency services exercise Millenium Mills, the site of the emergency services exercise

Saturday, April 26, 2014
2:00 PM

Emergency services from across the capital have embarked on one of the largest training exercises in their history this afternoon.

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The scenario aims to test local and national emergency response procedures to a major air crash incident in London by imagining that a plane has crashed into a large, derelict Victorian flour mill, known as Millennium Mills, in Silvertown.

The “crash site” includes a real fuselage from a Boeing 737 plane partially buried under 400 tonnes of rubble to really test those taking part.

Real flames and smoke will be used to make the scene look as convincing as possible for the 220 emergency service personnel, which include the London Fire Brigage, specialist Urban Search and Rescue (USAR), the Metropolitan Police Service, and London Ambulance Service.

Actors from Amputees in Action, an agency which provides amputee actors, are playing ‘casualties’, alongside more than 100 volunteers from a university paramedic course, to add to the realism.

The drama will spill out into the docks, with firefighters trained in water rescue searching the water for “survivors” and specialist police marine diving teams undertaking evidence recovery over the course of next two days.

London Fire Commissioner, Ron Dobson, said: “Air traffic incidents are extremely rare, but it is my responsibility to ensure that our fire and rescue teams, working with the other emergency services, are ready in the unlikely circumstance that something catastrophic were to occur with a plane in the capital.”

Commander Peter Terry the head of Emergency Preparedness for the Met, said: “Major incident exercises like this one provide us with the perfect opportunity to practice and test our response with our partners in a realistic fast moving environment.”

London Fire Brigade has been planning the exercise for the last nine months.

People living and working close to the site of the exercise have been told not to worry about the large number of emergency service personnel and vehicles present in the area for the duration of the exercise.

Follow @NewhamRecorder for live tweets and pictures this afternoon.

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