10th March 2017

Guernsey emergency services prepare for a disaster

Guernsey‘s emergency services joined their counterparts on Jersey in a four day operation codenamed Exercise Resilient Islands. Running from 6th to 10th March 2017, it was the biggest major incident exercise ever held on the Channel Islands.

Other than the organising teams, nobody on the services’ crews knew what the scenario would be until the exercise began. At 8am on 7th March, a call came in from the Duty Watch Officer informing Jersey Coastguard that a collision had taken place at sea.

Major sea collision

A fictional high-speed craft called Jaguar had crashed into a cruise ship. Between them, the boats were supposedly carrying 4000 people, and they’d both suffered serious damage. The Jaguar’s car deck was on fire and there was an unknown number of casualties.

By mid-morning on the second day, a French helicopter had joined the local emergency services, and was winching firefighters onto a boat in the Channel. In a real incident, it’s likely the French aircraft would have been called on to help, and on this occasion it was practicing getting crews onto an off the Duke of Normandy tug, which was standing in for the high-speed craft.

Condor high-speed ferry

Enter Condor Rapide

As the exercise moved into its third day, things moved up a notch. To make it as realistic as possible, the emergency services drafted in more than 100 actors to pose as passengers. They were fully made up with realistic cuts and burns, and each was given a cover story. The Condor Rapide was deployed to stand in for the Jaguar and its car deck was pumped full of smoke.

Both the British Red Cross and army got involved, as they would have done if the incident was real. A “survivor reception centre” was set up at Jersey’s Elizabeth terminal, and the passengers were either directed (if they could walk), carried or wheeled out of the “burning” craft.

The operation was deemed a success, and the port authorities stressed that even though they’d prepared for an emergency on this scale, the chances of it happening were incredibly rare.

 

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Other events that occured in March

Debut of Guernsey-set comedy This is Jinsy 1st
Channel 4 broadcasts Sark-based Mr Pye 2nd
First ever broadcast of Puffin’s Pla(i)ce 3rd
Dead man appointed to run Guernsey Airport 4th
Guernsey’s entire police force is arrested 5th
Isle of Guernsey delivered to its new owners 6th
Guernsey players set darts record
Guernsey heads call for an end to the Eleven-plus 7th
Guernsey’s first governor, Edmund Weston, is appointed 8th
Occupying forces mount a desperate raid on Granville 9th
Guernsey emergency services prepare for a disaster 10th
Birth of Baron James de Saumarez 11th
First publication of Victor Hugo’s Toilers of the Sea 12th
Building work starts on Guernsey Airport 13th
Guernsey’s island-wide police force is established 14th
Guernsey exchange student goes missing in Virginia 15th
The Book of Ebenezer Le Page is published 16th
BBC Radio Guernsey takes to the air
Guernsey clears up after heaviest snow in years 17th
Torrey Canyon spills oil on Guernsey’s beaches 18th
Guernsey issues banknotes featuring famous locals 19th
Guernsey guidebook pioneer Henry Inglis dies 20th
Soldiers staged a mutiny at Fort George 21st
Alderney arrest sparks a “riot” 22nd
Guernsey nurse Elizabeth Lincoln elected to the States 23rd
Famed printer Thomas de la Rue born 24th
Guernsey votes for equal age of consent 25th
Guernsey to UK telephone connection inaugurated 26th
Condor Liberation enters service 27th
Guernsey Post Office is established 28th
Enemy at the Door comes to the end of its run 29th
Guernsey adopts Sterling currency 30th
Guernsey and France tackle the Amoco Cadiz oil spill 31st