The Northwest Regional Working Group organised a major emergency exercise in the Clanree Hotel in Letterkenny yesterday involving 100 participants.
The training event was code-named Exercise Neptune, and was based on a rapidly escalating flooding incident in the Finn Valley area, County Donegal. Participants were told that there were some casualties and widespread property damage at the scene. This ‘table-top’ style exercise was geared at strengthening and developing the co-operation and co-ordination arrangements that exist between the Principal Response Agencies (PRA) and their partner agencies; the Defence Forces, the Irish Coast Guard, the Civil Defence and the Irish Red Cross.
Table-top exercises involve team members gathering in a workshop-style setting, and discussing their roles and responses to particular emergency situations. Scenario discussions evolve as prompts or interjections are provided by the moderator, and exercises are prepared and structured months prior to the event day.
Exercise Director Kevin McGarvey says the exercise has provided: ‘a valuable opportunity for the Principal Response Agencies and our partner agencies to test our plans, our inter-agency coordination and our preparations for a large-scale flood emergency response.’
Training programmes and workshops similar to this are key learning platforms for emergency service personnel as the types of floods focused on at yesterday’s training are becoming more and more common in this country. The event held yesterday was organised by the Northwest Regional Working Group for Major Emergency Management which includes the Principal Response Agencies (PRAs) of Donegal County Council, An Garda Síochána and the HSE (West).
Mr. McGarvey believes that by carrying out exercises of this nature, potential outcomes and responses to a real incident will be greatly improved.