Royal Bermuda Regiment soldiers at the weekend joined forces with other emergency services for a major disaster exercise in the run-up to the America’s Cup.

More than 250 personnel took part in a Dockyard disaster simulation designed to test the island’s responses to a major incident.

Participants in the exercise, which saw mass ‘casualties’ treated at the scene and transferred to hospital, were drawn from the RBR, Police, Fire Service, Customs, St John Ambulance, the Red Cross and the King Edward VII Memorial Hospital.

Representatives from the West End Development Corporation, ACBDA and the America’s Cup Event Authority also took part in the Saturday scenario, which included a post-exercise briefing held yesterday.

RBR training officer Major Ben Beasley said: “It has gone very well, and the Regiment was able to bring a lot of our specialised and general training to bear.”

The exercise saw emergency services dealing with a collision between a ferry and a tour boat, which saw large amounts of casualties, on board and in the water.

Regiment divers simulated passengers thrown into the water and assisted at the dockside with the recovery and treatment of the injured, while other soldiers, many with plastic ‘wounds’ played casualties.

At the same time, a vessel which refused radio instructions to comply with entry regulations was chased down by police, and boarded and searched by HM Customs/

The RBR boat troop took part in a joint services clean-up of two oil spills, one major and one minor, in the Dockyard area.

Regiment soldiers also tested their skills in search and security using Customs equipment located at Heritage Wharf to prepare for their major role in America’s Cup.

Maj. Beasley said: “We were involved in the oil spills and the mass casualties on land and on sea. Boat Troop is very skilled at oil spill containment and it’s part of the annual training requirement.

“Our operational support divers were able to play casualties in the water to add a realistic flavour. Our soldiers also assisted with the mass casualty evacuation, cordoning off the area and using medical training to provide first response assistance.”

Maj. Beasley added: “The benefit of having a military unit involved is that they know how to follow instructions very well, ask appropriate questions when required and be relied on to do the right thing.”

Bermuda Police Service Inspector Steve Cosham, the island’s national disaster coordinator, said the exercise was designed to identify weaknesses and improve the island’s joint response to major incidents.

He added: “It was set up to test the national contingency plans generally and in particular the parts that are relevant to the America’s Cup. But it’s not just the America’s Cup – it’s to make sure all our national plans are up to date and available for any state of emergency.

“If we have a catastrophe in Bermuda, the largest body of staff to call on is the Regiment. We need people to play casualties, but by playing casualties, they become familiar with the processes on the other side.”

Inspector Cosham said: “This was the first time we have ever practiced a mass casualty scenario on the water. It tested our mass casualty processes and the transportation of the critically ill to hospital, as well as the on-site clinic set up for the America’s Cup by St John Ambulance.”

He added that the exercise highlighted some areas to work on, like inter-agency communications.

But he said: “There were a lot of keen people who were communicating between agencies and demonstrating their knowledge of the plans. They will all be better for this experience.”

RBR Commanding Officer Lieutenant David Curley added: “Because the Regiment will play such a vital part in the America’s Cup we need to interact with other agencies, as we have done today.

And he said: “The Regiment will continue to train in the weeks leading up to the America’s Cup. We’re here to support the police and the America’s Cup and we will do so in the best traditions of the RBR and in the best interests of Bermuda.”

Commander Steve Matadobra, an observer from the US Coast Guard, added: “I thought it was a good learning opportunity and a lot of good things came out of it.

“It’s a good test of how well different agencies operate collaboratively. It’s good to learn that inter-operability and work together.”

Read this article on Bernews here: