HMAS Creswell was flooded with emergency services personnel for all the right reasons recently. The base on the New South Wales south coast hosted Operation HERCULES, a bi-annual multi-agency training exercise.
Organised by representatives of the Police, Ambulance Service NSW, NSW Fire and Rescue, Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service and other agency representatives from the Shoalhaven Local Emergency Management Committee.
This year, Creswell and the Navy's School of Survivability and Ship Safety Training Facility - East, were approached to participate and support a Combined Emergency training camp. The training exercise provides an opportunity for all of the emergency and support agencies within the Shoalhaven area to practice and develop their skills in a range of training modules and participate in realistic exercise.
The first day was devoted to workshops and field exercise to reinforce ‘best practice’ for a multi-agency coordinated emergency. This provided a unique and challenging experience for the emergency personnel; Navy staff conducted basic training in leak stopping and repair in the dynamic simulator and basic fire fighting. Approximately 80 emergency personnel form various agencies experienced how Navy personnel are trained.
Police Superintendent Joe Cassar, Shoalhaven Local Area Commander, said the multi-agency approach benefited all participants.
"Creswell provided all emergency service agencies with an excellent opportunity to test their own capabilities as well as work within a multi-agency response to a very realistic scenario," he said.
On the second day, Navy facilities were utilised as a major component of the training exercise scenario. The exercise scenario, an aircraft had clipped the fire fighting units which for the purpose of the exercise represented an apartment block; this caused numerous fires and casualties. This initiated a response from the Rural Fire Service and NSW Fire and Rescue personnel to respond; they were followed by the arrival of ambulance and Police. Paramedics established a triage area to deal with the numerous casualties while the Police set up command and control of the incident. As part of the exercise the ‘aircraft’ continued across Creswell losing some of its contents. This generated a requirement for the State Emergency Service and Marine Rescue Service to undertake a land and sea search for possible survivors, casualties and aircraft wreckage around the Jervis Bay area.
Navy staff were assisted and supplemented by officers from the Army Parachute Training School at HMAS Albatross who assisted with the land and sea search. Junior officers from New Entry Officers' Course 53 (NEOC 53) volunteered to role play as casualties and assist in other roles through out the exercise.