Exercise Orca puts community resilience to the test

A group of West Sussex Scouts has become the first in the county to complete a live evacuation exercise as part of their Duke of Cornwall Award.


Release date: 20 March 2017

A group of West Sussex Scouts has become the first in the county to complete a live evacuation exercise as part of their Duke of Cornwall Award.

The 4th Littlehampton Scout Group hosted a group of ‘evacuees’ on Friday evening, when they set up a temporary rest centre for a group of ‘residents’ who had to be moved when a severe weather warning led to the risk of flooding.

The ten to 14-year-old boys and girls have been completing their Duke of Cornwall Award as part of the What If? programme, run by the West Sussex Resilience and Emergencies Team.

The Duke of Cornwall Award educates and trains young people to assist before, during and after a crisis, by giving them an opportunity to learn what to do in emergencies like severe weather, a pandemic or long-term power cut.

What If? is an over-arching resilience programme that encourages communities to consider the risks and disruption they might experience in their area and how to prepare for likely local impacts. The programme is run with three sectors – communities, business and youth, with the Duke of Cornwall Award delivered as the main element with younger people.

Friday evening’s ‘evacuation’ was the culmination of a number of events held during the week and captured on film to help other groups in the future.

When complete it will show realistic news broadcasts giving a severe weather warning, an area being evacuated and the steps the Scouts then take to set up a temporary rest centre.

The exercise, Operation Orca, was supported by West Downs Neighbourhood Task Force, a group of volunteers who acted as evacuees.

Martin Funnell, Assistant Head of WSCC Resilience and Emergencies Team, is also leader of the Scout group and was keen to ensure the youngsters he works with are amongst the best prepared anywhere to help out during a crisis.

He said: “It is absolutely fantastic to have staged our first live exercise as part of the Duke of Cornwall Awards. It helped ensure this group of Scouts have a realistic view of the support they could provide to their community in an emergency and we hope other groups will be able to learn from the film we have produced.”

Further information about What If? and the Duke of Cornwall Awards are available from emergency@westsussex.gov.uk

West Sussex Fire & Rescue Service is at the heart of West Sussex County Council's Communities and Public Protection Directorate, working to support communities to become safer, stronger and more resilient through a combination of prevention, protection and response activities.

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