Exercise Orion

Exercise 'Orion' Gwydyr, Hampshire

Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service played host to a major European exercise in September 2010. Funded by the European Union, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service took part in a multi agency disaster exercise to test resilience and European partnership working.  Exercise Orion was led by Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue Service but the practical element was hosted at Fort Widley in Hampshire from September 6 to September 10.

It was a simulated earthquake scenario with the epicentre under Fort Widely on Portsdown Hill, outside Portsmouth. This unlikely scenario was selected to test parts of the UK’s national resilience and how international help might be incorporated in a catastrophic emergency.

Exercise Orion tested the UK’s response to this large-scale disaster to the limit, eventually exhausting some specialist aspects of UK capacity. At this point the Cabinet Office will activate an assistance request from other countries through the EU civil protection mechanism.  Countries that are sent teams to assist the UK for this exercise are Germany, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

A further search and rescue team from the United Arab Emirates will also be participating.  Norfolk USAR attended with Modules 1, 2 and 3 along with the Search Dog and crew bus. Some 20 personnel made up 2 teams for the deployment.