Europe’s largest-ever disaster training exercise is taking place in London. More than 200 personnel and 2,000 volunteers acting as the casualties are involved in the exercise, which starts today (Feb. 29) and will last over four days.
The disaster scenario was based upon a tower block collapsing onto a subway station in the British capital. An entire London Underground station had to be recreated for the exercise, which took a year to plan. The exercise was funded by the European Commission Exercise Program and coordinated by the London Fire Brigade.
Exercise Unified Response is supposed to provide a realistic training environment for specialist urban search and rescue teams, the police, health workers, and local authorities. While this situation is specifically for disasters and not terrorism, the images will remind some Londoners of painful memories; London was the subject of terror attacks on its buses and Tube in 2005. The year before, a series of attacks targeted commuter trains in Madrid, killing 191 and injuring more than 1,800 people.
“Although this scenario is not a terrorist attack, we will be practicing procedures and systems that are common to any emergency that results in a large number of fatalities and injuries,” London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said in a statement.