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So far at SimEx 2017

Well it's all started for the Portsmouth Simex. Early this morning the team leader received a message that there had been an earthquake measuring 7.1 (RS) in the fictional country of Drachir at 02:00 (local) on 8 May 2017.

The initial quake with an estimated depth of 10km and a series of powerful aftershocks have caused extensive damage in Drahcir and along the associated fault line stretching into the neighbouring countries of Mas and Nemrac. There are increasing reports of significant damage to buildings and infrastructure. The local responders are working hard but are becoming increasingly challenged by the magnitude of the event. Urgent requests for international assistance have been received from all three affected countries.

The SARAID team members are now busy packing and preparing equipment and will be making their way to the team Rendezvous location to meet up with colleagues from our partner team @Fire from Germany, who will be joining with the SARAID team to respond to this request.

More info to follow as things develop

Update about SimEx 2017, from our insider on the exercise staff

Based in and around Portsmouth, Hampshire the SimEx series of exercises have taken place annually over 5 years, growing from being a small event to the large scale multinational, multi-agency exercise it is today, Europe's largest Disaster response exercise.

The exercise comprises a mix of live, simulation and command and control events in order to provide a neutral platform to test both national and international emergency response mechanisms.

The overall aims of the exercise comprise:
1. International and national response capacity development
2. Promote coordination of humanitarian/public assistance and research
3. Evaluation of emergency management systems including institutional and legal frameworks presented by the participating organisations

All SimEx activities are guided by the four humanitarian principles:
1. humanity
2. neutrality
3. impartiality
4. independence

These principles provide the foundations for humanitarian action internationally and are central to establishing and maintaining access to affected people, whether in a natural disaster or a complex emergency, such as armed conflict. Nationally in the UK principles for emergency response and recovery arrangements should be flexible and tailored to reflect circumstances, following a common set of 8 underpinning principles
1. Anticipation
2. Preparedness
3. Subsidiarity
4. Direction
5. Information
6. Integration
7. Co-operation
8. Continuity

The exercise series strives to further develop a shared understanding of the multi-agency framework for emergency response and recovery at the local level, and the roles and responsibilities of individual organisations in accordance to the 8 principles.

This year, the participating organisations include; SARAID, @Fire, University of Portsmouth, The United Nations OHCR, Hampshire Constabulary, Hampshire Fire and Rescue, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK Border Force, ServeON, The Dept for International Development, South Central Ambulance Service, 4x4 Response, RNLI, HM Coastguard, The Red Cross and Team Rubicon.

The team have no idea how the situation will develop over the week, but we do know they will be kept busy and their skills and expertise fully tested!

SARAID join the largest UK simulated exercise for trapped people.

An earthquake, refugees, terrorists and kidnappers formed the dramatic backdrop to the yearly major disaster simulation exercise this week involving students and staff from across the University of Portsmouth and Search and Rescue Teams from the UK.

The three-day SimEx2016 event saw more than 400 people from the University and 30 partner organisations responding to a realistic 'live' disaster in and around Portsmouth, this year it is set to be even bigger with more scenarios to test the skills of the partner organisations while providing the opportunity for final year students from Portsmouth University to put their learnings into practice.

SimEx2016 director Naomi Morris, a humanitarian consultant and Portsmouth graduate who has led international response teams in real-life crisis scenarios, said: "The exercise creates a platform for international, national and volunteer organisations to practise and improve vital coordination on standard operating procedures for emergency response, at the same time as giving the University an excellent opportunity to expose students from various departments to their potential future career choices."

Last year the exercise began with Serve On volunteers ferrying 'refugees' from earthquake-hit Hayling Island to the operational headquarters based at the University's Institute of Marine Sciences, where the victims were assessed by the 'United Nations' team. The operation then moved to Fort Widley, on Portsdown Hill, which Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service turned into an urban search and rescue training centre.

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