Emergency services gather for planning exercise on Mersey Gateway Bridge deck
Emergency services and bridge maintenance teams took part in a major emergency planning exercise on the new Mersey Gateway Bridge today (Friday 8 September).
The planning exercise involved teams of people from Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, Cheshire Police, the North West Ambulance Service, the Environment Agency and Halton Borough Council, as well as members of Merseylink’s bridge maintenance team.
It simulated an accident and chemical spillage on the bridge, and was designed to test how the emergency services would respond to a real emergency on the bridge route.
This was a vital part of the final planning ahead of the opening of the new bridge in the next few weeks and means all services have the opportunity to assess their responses to ensure they can respond effectively to a real emergency situation.
Rob Polhill, Leader of Halton Borough Council said: “We already have well rehearsed and detailed processes in place to deal with incidents or accidents on the Silver Jubilee Bridge, and we’ve been working closely with our colleagues in the emergency services to make sure we have detailed plans in place for the new bridge.”
Hugh O’Connor, General Manager at Merseylink, said: “With any piece of major new infrastructure it is vital local emergency services and associated agencies are prepared to deal with real emergencies.
“The new Mersey Gateway Bridge and the road network that links it to the main routes through Halton features very clever smart road technology, that allows our maintenance teams and our emergency services colleagues to respond very quickly to any incident or accident on the route.
“We will be able to monitor what is happening along the entire route 24 hours a day, seven days a week. This is all part of our efforts to be able to respond to any safety concerns, and in the event of a real incident, we can deal with it as quickly and effectively as possible.”
The scenario was put together by Marc Beechey, Station Manager with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service: “The Mersey Gateway Bridge exercise was a huge but enjoyable project to organise,” he said.
“It has created an excellent working platform and has set the foundations for a fantastic working relationship between the Fire Service and our partner agencies.
“It provided valuable knowledge and understanding of agency roles when dealing with complex incidents, involving a number of combined scenarios.”
Simon Hurst, Merseyside Area Operations Manager, who took part in the emergency exercise said: “The Environment Agency is a Category One responder, as with any major incident we assess and deal with adverse environmental impact.
“The Environment Agency achieves this through close collaboration with key partners to ensure positive environmental outcomes are considered at the start, during and post incident management.”
The new bridge is scheduled to open in the next few weeks. It will be a toll bridge and anyone who wants to register for discounts on the bridge can do so at www.merseyflow.co.uk.