On Thursday 17 August, a live exercise simulating a terrorist attack was carried out by the three regional emergency services: West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS), West Yorkshire Police (WYP) and Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS).
Hosted by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), the scenario saw first responders from each of the services deal with a simulated terrorist attack, with agencies tasked with detaining the suspects, managing the scene, protecting the public and rescuing the wounded.
This was just one of a number of multi-agency training exercises which routinely take place throughout the region and the year. It was not in response to any specific threat or intelligence regarding DWP or Leeds. While the exercise was underway there was no impact on front-line services, which continued as normal.
For an incident of this kind, WYFRS mobilises its highly-trained Specialist Response Team, which consists of firefighters trained in the use of ballistic protection, mass casualty triage, and treatment and evacuation. This would be in addition to the usual frontline firefighters and appliances.
Simeon Bambrook, Assistant District Commander for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue service, said: “It’s vital we train together for incidents of this nature in a live environment and learn as much as possible from the range of challenges they present. Exercises like this are a great opportunity for us to test our multi-agency plans and ensure they are as effective and current as they can be for managing incidents and keeping the public safe.
“All partners are fully committed to ensuring we are thoroughly prepared should the worst happen in our region and we’re really pleased with the swift and professional response to the incident by those taking part.”
West Yorkshire’s emergency services and partner agencies regularly carry out exercises of this kind, both independently and as part of the West Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, which requires organisations to work together to prepare for, respond to and recover from major incidents and emergencies in the region.
Detective Superintendent Dan Patrick from Counter Terrorism Policing North East is the regional lead for Protect and Prepare. He said: “Robust plans are in place to help the emergency services respond to terrorist attacks. It is essential these plans are well understood and jointly exercised so all agencies are as prepared as they possibly can be should an incident occur.
“We are committed to working alongside our partners to strengthen our readiness and our resources for a wide range of incidents. A UK wide exercise programme helps us to achieve this, enabling us to evolve and enhance our combined capability against changing threats and terrorist tactics.”
All those involved in the exercise will carry out a full debrief and evaluation of the exercise to ensure any lessons are captured and incorporated into West Yorkshire’s major incident plans.