Exercise 'Tartarus'

Exercise 'Tartarus' Sweyn Close Thetford

Exercise Tartarus 17th May 2011, Sweyn Close Thetford.

Norfolk hosted USAR teams from Essex and Kent along with our own USAR team and Thetford fire crews for a highly realistic exercise in Thetford.The exercise, which was organised by Craig Keeley from USAR Red Watch, was designed to simulate a gas explosion affecting a terrace of seven houses with multiple persons reported.The exercise site is being redeveloped by Lovells in association with Flagship Housing and they very kindly offered to allow NFRS to use the site for a "live‟ training scenario before the houses were demolished.

USAR Red Watch then worked very closely with Anglian Demolition to achieve a highly realistic enactment of partially collapsed houses. Anglian Demolition provided actors for the crowd scene at the start of the exercise which added to the realism and gave the first attending crews plenty to contend with.The aims of the exercise were as follows

  • To recreate a realistic incident to enable fire crews to demonstrate their initial actions on arrival.
  • To test the ICS system specifically relating to the integration of multiple USAR teams into the Norfolk structure.
  • To test the mobilisation of the NFRS USAR team under realistic conditions.
  • To demonstrate the core functions of the fire crews and USAR teams at a large scale building collapse based around the USAR model of REPEAT.

On arrival the Thetford crew were confronted with seven partially collapsed terraced houses with live casualties shouting from the upper floors, they were also met by the crowd of distressed residents who were highly agitated and concerned for their relatives. A make-up was quickly put in and the crews carried out initial snatch rescues as well as setting up the ICS infrastructure.

The Norfolk USAR crew was in attendance 30 minutes after the initial attendance with Kent and Essex teams not far behind. Hooky the search dog and his handler, Steve Polley also attended along with the search dog from Essex who was undergoing training.In total 9 casualties were rescued alive, but the crews also had to deal with a very realistic fatality.SM Jon Wilby said “For me this was further exposure to the skills and the equipment that our USAR team can bring to a complex incident.” “The exercise also highlighted USAR techniques, procedure and formalised process for carrying out searches of collapsed buildings”.

CFO Nigel Williams also visited the exercise "as an exercise this was as real as it gets".For further information please contact WM Duncan Barrow