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Evacuees well looked after at exercise

Over 50 pretend evacuees were looked after on Friday by Birmingham City Council at an exercise to test the arrangements for emergency shelter in the city.

An evacuee with her pet being registered at the rest centre

Community volunteers and members of the British Red Cross played the part of residents who had been evacuated from their homes following a large fire close to a residential housing estate.  The discovery of pressurised cylinders of a highly flammable gas resulted in the evacuation of a large number of people.  Wyndley Leisure Centre in Sutton Coldfield opened its doors to look after the evacuees.

The exercise was part of the arrangements for dealing with evacuees following emergencies that require people to leave their homes.  In these cases local authorities are responsible for setting up ‘rest centres’ where food, shelter, medical support and practical advice and information can be given. 

Birmingham City Council has pre-designated centres available 24 hours a day.  They are able to be used to accommodate anyone evacuated from their homes who doesn’t have any other arrangements.  Trained officers and voluntary organisations, such as the British Red Cross, are on standby to be called out to manage the emergency centres.

Veronica Coleman, Principal Emergency Planning Officer, who was in charge of the exercise said,  “A range of Council officers and voluntary organisations work together to provide emergency shelter, many of them volunteer 24/7 to be called out.”

“The enthusiasm of the pretend evacuees was great and really helped make the exercise as realistic as possible, as well as highlighting some very constructive suggestions about how things could be improved.”

“During 2010 we activated a rest centre three times during real emergencies, and regular exercises like this mean we can be fully prepared”.

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