Disaster simulation well done

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THERE was a bit of excitement in town last Friday when Sarah Baartman District Municipality and Ndlambe Municipality held a disaster management simulation on the Nico Malan Bridge, to test the effectiveness of local rescue response.

The scenario was a head-on collision between a fuel tanker and a bus filled with school pupils, some of whom were “thrown” into the Kowie River.

It was impressive watching the coordinated emergency response by the Ndlambe fire department, traffic department, SAPS, the provincial ambulance service and two private ambulance services, the NSRI, MultiSecurity and Kowie Towing.

In spite of a late start, and the onset of rain, it all seemed to go down very well. In fact the rain added another element to the exercise, as we cannot expect that accidents will happen in ideal weather.

There was some rubbernecking by locals who thought a real accident had taken place, and anxious questions and speculation on Facebook, someone even suggesting it was a movie shoot.

I noticed a drone with a camera flying overhead while I was taking photographs, and though it was a very smart move by the simulation organisers to get overhead footage of the exercise, or just a lucky break for a local photographer!

When our Facebook readers were informed that it was a disaster simulation rather than a real accident, there was some moaning and griping from a few people about the inconvenience of traffic being diverted along Pascoe Crescent and Main Street, and the resulting congestion, especially with big trucks going through town.

Indeed it was Friday traffic at the month-end, so probably even more traffic than normal, but let’s give credit to the authorities for having this in mind when they planned the exercise.

Murray and Roberts especially removed its stop and go’s along the R72 that day to ease traffic flow.

And just like the rain that fell, we cannot expect that traffic will be light as a breeze in a real disaster scenario. As another poster on Facebook said, in a real accident situation, if your children were on the bus, the last thing you would be concerned about is motorists being inconvenienced by slow-moving traffic.

There was another bit of irony towards the end of the simulation, when a four-car blue light brigade led by a marked Hawks vehicle forced their way through the traffic barricade at the robots until they realised they would not get through the “accident scene” and had to turn around and follow the diverted traffic.

That was good for a chuckle.

– Jon Houzet

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