Gloucestershire RAYNET work with User Service Exercise
Gloucestershire RAYNET recently participated in a large scale multi agency exercise involving helicopters, hovercraft, UAVs and sniffer dogs. More than 400 emergency workers descended on Cotswold Water Park, near Cirencester, to simulate the response which would be needed in the event of an aircraft collision in mid-air.
With only the scenario known, the ten members were initially requested to rendezvous at the Fire Strategic Holding Area located on a nearby army barracks, before being tasked to provide radio links back to the fire control room at the Tri-Service headquarters outside Gloucester, and also deploy into the incident zone. Less than an hour later, point to point contact was made between the two locations via talk through units for messages to be passed, in case of an Airwave failure. Ironically, this did happen, and the only air to ground VHF liaison with the RAF Sea King deployed from Chivenor was via marine licensed RAYNET personnel on site, sparing a few red faces!
Due to the exercise ending early, members were denied the opportunity to deploy with police search teams and the experience of having to kit up in full forensic white suits.
The experience provided an excellent opportunity to demonstrate the group’s capabilities and impress those conducting the exercise – including national observers – as well as re-establish good contacts with blue light and fellow volunteer agencies.
Agreement signed with RAYNET to improve resilience
Chief Fire Officer Jon Hall and George Hayter from Gloucestershire RAYNET signed a Statement of Strategic Alliance last week to formalise the working relationship between both organisations.
RAYNET has worked closely with the Civil Protection Team (CPT) for a number of years, providing emergency communications between all the district councils and Shire Hall, as well as providing backup communications for the county’s Rest Centres in times of evacuation. They also provide emergency communications for the Royal International Air Tattoo at Fairford each year on behalf of the CPT.
RAYNET are full members of the Gloucestershire Local Resilience Forum (LRF) where they are members of the Search and Rescue Group. As a member of this group they operate and train together with agencies including Gloucestershire Police, Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue and Severn Area Rescue Association (SARA).
The statement ‘records an intention of officers of both organisations …….to work together more closely to increase the number of responders available and to recognise benefits from closer integration of volunteers in core activities of rescue provision.’
RAYNET will be involved in any future training exercises to test the resilience of communications during an emergency.