UKs largest disaster simulation exercise takes place in Hampshire

Local, national and international emergency response organisations will be taking part in the UK’s largest annual international disaster simulation exercise this week.

SIMEX, which is run by a number of lead agencies and team members including those from the University of Portsmouth and The Simex Series Trust, runs from Tuesday 17 to Friday 20 May.

One part of this year’s disaster simulation is based around the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth collapsing after being struck by a ferry.

On Tuesday, as part of the exercise, there will be a simulated mass casualty incident at the University of Portsmouth, where Nursing and Allied Health Care Professional students will treat patients with a variety of different injuries. Nursing staff and doctors from Queen Alexandra (QA) hospital will join Nursing academics and students from Nursing, Operating Department Practice, Radiography and Drama and Performance department.

The whole exercise is an educational activity for all of the team involved and as such there will be certain points in the day that we will freeze action to enable everyone to learn from some more significant presenting injuries.

Melanie Tanner, Senior Teaching Fellow (Nursing) in the School of Health and Care Professions, said: “During their shift, our students will be undertaking the role of a ‘band 5 Registered Nurse’. Each student will be designated an area, for example minors, majors, resus etc, and will be linked with a registered nurse from QA who will be coordinating and leading the care required. They can expect a variety of patients with both physical and mental health conditions.

“The whole exercise is an educational activity for all of the team involved and as such there will be certain points in the day that we will freeze action to enable everyone to learn from some more significant presenting injuries.”

On Wednesday and Thursday, the student nurses will support a team from the University’s Crisis and Disaster Management course undertaking a number of scenarios based on a refugee incident at other exercise sites around Portsmouth. This part of the disaster simulation is based around a major earthquake and volcanic eruption that results in a severe humanitarian disaster including severe flooding, environmental pollution, collapsed buildings and displacement of people.

The annual SIMEX Series exercise, which started in 2012, comprises a mix of live, simulation and command and control events in order to test both national and international emergency response. It is also designed to provide a learning environment for participants to test disaster event response plans, policies and procedures.

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