London: Emergency services in London joined forces to carry out the largest emergency practice drill ever seen in the British capital ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
This time, 2,500 people were involved in the exercise, which centred around a fictitious terrorist attack on Oxford Street underground station Aug 8, set to be one of the busiest places during the July-August mega event.
The exercise also drew in the British government, with Prime Minister David Cameron chairing an emergency disaster committee meeting to coordinate the national response.
Part of the exercise was to test upgraded systems and processes, and to practise coordination between London`s Metropolitan Police Service, the London Fire Brigade, London Ambulance Service and British Transport Police, which is responsible for all the railway lines in the capital.
Superintendent Nicki Watson of British Transport Police explained an agency the reasons of exercise. "This is testing the first response - the communication, command and control and then subsequent investigation that will be conducted between a number of partner agencies such as the Metropolitan Police, British Transport Police, London Fire Brigade, London Ambulance Service, and some specialist units as well."
In the multiple bombings of July 7, 2005, the emergency services had difficulty communicating with each other and coordinating action on London`s underground system.
"The air wave communication system, our communication system, via radio has been significantly enhanced and one of the key things that we will be looking at is exactly how that system holds up and how those enhancements will help us to communicate in a better way," said Watson.
Chief operating officer of London Underground, Howard Collins, explained what had changed and improved for the Olympic Games beginning July 27.
"Since then we have had a lot of investment across the board in communications. We have a fully integrated radio system, and the emergency services do as well. We have upgraded our response teams," said Collins.
A spokesman for London Ambulance Service revealed what it would be doing to ensure the safety of tourists and Londoners during the Games period.
"To help us with that we have got 400 paramedics coming into London from around the country, which we will be deploying at Games venues and we have been testing in exercise since 2006 to ensure that the Games are safe and secure."