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DIO supports emergency response rehearsal

Emergency services have practised dealing with the aftermath of a fatal helicopter accident on a Norfolk military training area.

The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) opened Stanford Training Area (STANTA) to emergency crews from across eastern England as the location for a simulated aviation incident.

Exercise Blue Light was the fourth in a series of annual emergency exercises. It involved the Norfolk and Suffolk Lowland search and rescue teams, the Norfolk and Suffolk 4x4 response teams, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Services, Norfolk Police and the Military Air Accident Investigation Branch.

Truck demounts a mobile command unit
A Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service truck demounts an urban search and rescue module [Picture: Crown copyright]

Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Tony Powell, Executive Officer for DIO Service Delivery Training East, said:

Whilst DIO’s priority is to support our armed forces as they prepare for operations, STANTA is a diverse training area offering a wide range of facilities suitable for non-military users. I was pleased we could support this important multi-agency exercise.

The exercise went very smoothly and was regarded as a great success. Most importantly it proved the STANTA emergency procedure and allowed new acquaintances to be made and mutual problems to be discussed.

A challenging scenario was set up where a civilian helicopter crashed in the early hours of the morning. Participants examined and determined the extent of the crash, recovering debris from the crash site, whilst helping and directing search teams.

Exercise Blue Light crash scene
Exercise Blue Light crash scene [Picture: Crown copyright]

The aim of the exercise was for all the agencies involved to test their capabilities and speed of response to a civilian air crash.

By the end of the exercise the search teams, with the help of a police helicopter, had found all the crash debris, plus a little extra, which was cleared by Range Control. All bodies were recovered and all crash debris identified.

Paul Wesley of Suffolk Lowland Search and Rescue said:

Exercise Blue Light was a resounding success. The day ran smoothly thanks to the invaluable support we received from the team at STANTA. The exercise enabled us to practise for a real life scenario and iron out any potential issues. The exercise was so successful, I would like to return next year and run Exercise Blue Light 5.