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Exercise Hotfoot tests plans for emergency rest centre

Sixty people of all ages - and two dogs - turned out in Whittlesey last week (March 11) to add a touch of reality to a mock emergency training exercise.

Exercise Hotfoot emergency

The scenario was that a chemical tanker had crashed into another lorry, resulting in an explosion and fire that had spread to nearby homes, leading to the evacuation of local residents.

Exercise Hotfoot was designed to help ensure that Fenland District Council staff are fully prepared to cope with an emergency.

Staged at the Manor Centre in Whittlesey, it ran through all the procedures involved in setting up and running a temporary rest centre for anyone forced out of their homes at short notice.

About 20 council officers took part, together with seven staff and volunteers from the British Red Cross.

The "evacuees" made their way to the rest centre, where they were registered, given refreshments and kept up to date with events as they unfolded.

Two FDC Cabinet members - Cllr David Oliver, portfolio holder for community safety, and Cllr Mike Cornwell, responsible for health and wellbeing - were there to observe.

Afterwards Cllr Oliver said: "It was a really useful exercise for everyone involved. These type of things are all about learning which bits work well and what could be improved. Now we can take those lessons away and make any necessary adjustments to our procedures to ensure that everything works as smoothly as possible in a real emergency.

"I'd like to thank all those members of the community who came along and help make the training as realistic as possible."

Tony Smith, the British Red Cross's local emergency planning and response officer, said: "We do these sort of things all the time and this was one of the best we've done in the past few years. The set-up was really good."

Article added March 16, 2015