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Belize Emergency Services Ready with BATSUB Simulation

September 01
12:00 2019

Burrell Boom, August 27th, 2019

A jack-knifed 18-wheeler oil tanker, an overturned tour bus, an overturned SUV and crashed cars had all the hallmarks of a multi-vehicle traffic pile-up, complete with trapped passengers, casualties thrown from their vehicles, and bodies floating in the Belize River underneath the Burrell Boom Bridge on Tuesday morning, August 27.

But there were no real injuries, nor any blood spilt, and no lives lost; for all the “injuries” and “blood” were stage make-up and props, the “spilt fuel” was actually water, all part of a disaster simulation exercise conducted by the British Army Training Support Unit Belize (BATSUB) to test the readiness and response times of Belize’s emergency services.
Major Allan Grant coordinated the exercise and explained that BATSUB collaborated with the Department of the Environment in conducting the “Phase 3 of Exercise Tropical Alliance” disaster simulation. Their objective was to test the readiness of the participating agencies: National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), Police Department, National Fire Service, Belize Emergency Response Team (BERT), Astrum Helicopters, Belize Natural Energy and the Belize Defence Force’s (BDF) Special Boat Unit.

Thus Police were called to cordon off the area and control traffic, to allow BERT to attend to the “trapped victims,” who were extracted by the Fire Department from the overturned vehicles, while the Astrum helicopter flew an emergency “med-evac,” and the Police mobiles were pressed into service to transport the “deceased.” The DoE also trotted out its equipment to deal with a possible oil spill.

Each agency had scrutineers who monitored the effectiveness of the communications equipment between the different agencies in the field, and the skills and knowledgeability of the participating personnel to execute the required procedures, and to work with each other. The purpose was to prepare all the emergency workers on the ground, to improve their response times, so that they might actually save lives in the event of a natural catastrophe or other emergency.

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