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.