Portsmouth University 'Evacuted'

Emergency services will join forces with staff and students from Portsmouth University and staff from Portsmouth City Council today ( 21 November) for a practice evacuation exercise.

The exercise, called Ruby Moon, will centre on the simulated release of a chemical in a science laboratory at the University of Portsmouth, resulting in the evacuation of several hundred staff and students in the middle of morning lectures and seminars. St Michael’s Building and King Henry Building will be evacuated.

As well as University students and staff, the exercise will involve a number of volunteers, including council staff, students and paramedics, who will assume the role of casualties. The ‘casualties’ will be rescued by firefighters from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and paramedics from South Central Ambulance Service’s (SCAS) Hazardous Area Response Team. A survivor reception centre for those affected by the incident will be established at Portsmouth Guildhall by staff from the city council.

This exercise is designed to enable all the organisations involved to practice working together to safely resolve a large-scale incident as well as testing individual agency responses.

Portsmouth City Council’s civil contingencies manager, Cindy Jones, said: “Exercises like this are a normal part of making sure we are prepared for emergencies. As well as giving organisations the chance to make sure their own emergency plans are working, they also give the different agencies an opportunity to practice working together and responding as a team.”

Dave Smith, HFRS Group Manager of Portsmouth, said: “This exercise is a great opportunity for Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service to work with other agencies to ensure that if there was an incident of this nature, all agencies are able to work together to respond in a timely and accurate manner.

“The exercise will not only test communicating and working with other agencies, but also decision making in life critical situations and accuracy of information between levels. Training exercises such as this offer a great opportunity to make our communities a safe place to live.”

Tony Davis, Head of Campus Environment at the University of Portsmouth, said: “We are very pleased to be hosting this emergency planning exercise for the city’s public services. The safety of our students and staff is paramount to the University and it’s important that all the participating organisations have a regular opportunity to rehearse their drills.”

David Findlay, Resilience and Specialist Operations Manager from South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, said “We are really pleased to be involved in exercise Ruby Moon. Although incidents like this are very rare the exercise gives us the opportunity to test our procedures working alongside other partners and to ensure that we can respond confidently and effectively”.