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Emergency services crews put to the test

Emergency services crews put to the test

Emergency services crews put to the test

2 September 2021

Band of Brothers – (from left) Les, David and Allan Stibbe, from The Salvation Army Emergency Services Fassifern team, prepare meals in the Emergency Catering Unit during Exercise Terminus.

By Darryl Whitecross

Several Salvation Army Emergency Services (SAES) crews were out in force recently to respond to a critical weather event in Brisbane.

Working to support about 30 role players and about 90 volunteers and staff from organisations such as the State Emergency Service (SES), St John Ambulance, the army, police, Brisbane City Council, Red Cross and Save the Children, the SAES provided hot beverages, water, snacks and burgers throughout the event.

Most people would not have heard about the critical weather event ... because there wasn’t one. It was ‘Exercise Terminus’ and staged to run an evacuation facility through its paces and allow each of the organisations on-site to test their policies and procedures in the event of an actual disaster, including working around COVID-19 protocols.

SAES crews from across South East Queensland, including Caloundra, Parkridge, Fassifern and Brisbane, took part.

Queensland SAES Coordinator Adam Cole said the exercise was hosted by Brisbane City Council and designed to practically test how the evacuation centre would cope with the numbers of agencies and evacuees who would need to use it in a real emergency and to develop “interoperability” between agencies.

Adam said the scenario this time was that a severe weather event had struck parts of the Brisbane Local Government Area, resulting in residents becoming displaced from their homes. The storm included destructive winds and giant hail followed by a prolonged period of heavy rainfall, causing major damage to large numbers of homes across Sunnybank, Eight Mile Plains and Rochedale on Brisbane’s southside. It was anticipated that 200 people in the surrounding area would require emergency overnight shelter.

Exercise Terminus was one of several evacuation centre exercises the council regularly runs in conjunction with the Red Cross at a range of sites to ensure venues could provide emergency accommodation during a disaster.

The exercises enable participating agencies to coordinate their disaster management plans in a realistic role-play situation and train and skill their staff and volunteers between events.

Adam said Queensland’s SAES usually were involved in at least one such exercise a year. Logan and Redland Shire councils hosted an exercise last year.

The most recent time the SAES teams had collaborated on such a scale for an actual disaster was in November last year following a severe hailstorm that devastated parts of South East Queensland with some of the largest hailstones Australia had seen – some measuring 14cm in diameter. In 10 days, SAES teams served 1500 meals to fire service and SES crews.

Adam said there was a cafe area in the Exercise Terminus facility that the SAES could set up in, so all his team needed to do was plug in urns and arrange the food and drink stations in that space. Outside, the major Emergency Catering Unit and mobile coolroom were set up as the hub for food preparation.

Along with morning tea and drinks throughout the exercise, the team served about 140 meals for lunch, including dietary meals made up of 150 steaks, five lettuces, 5kg of tomatoes, 5kg of onion, and five tins of beetroot, 150 slices of cheese.


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