“MVA FHK PASS”, is an all-too-familiar message sent out on local WhatsApp groups. On Wednesday, 29 November, the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) was however the start of a multi-agency exercise involving Stellenbosch Fire and Rescue Services, SAPS Franschhoek, Western Cape Metro Rescue Services, Winelands District Fire Services, Stellenbosch Traffic Services, Department of Correctional Services, Stellenbosch private and public hospitals, ER24 and local paramedics Garth Van Zyl (Medicare EMR) and Kurt Maske.
This was one of many scenario-based exercises that have been completed in the municipal area, but the first for the Franschhoek Valley. These exercises are continuously coordinated by Shezayd Seigels, and her team from Stellenbosch Disaster Management. In this scenario – prisoner transport left the road – they were dressed in the bright orange outfits of prisoners to get fully into character.
Exercises of this nature are important as they provide participants with the opportunity to work together in a ‘controlled’ environment which makes safe, seamless operations much easier when the real thing happens. Multiple criteria where assessed during the exercise, including scene safety, technical rope rescue techniques, multiple patient management, inter-agency communication and incident command systems.
This exercise was brought to a successful conclusion under the coordination of Station Commander Kenny Alberts of the La Motte Fire Station who was designated incident commander.
Ashley Bauer of Hemisphere Emergence Preparedness Consulting thanked the community for their patience during the exercise, which necessitated stop-go traffic on the pass, and all the agencies and personnel that took part in the exercise. He also pointed out the importance of involving local resources as they are often the first to arrive at incident scenes.
For all accidents and emergencies please contact Stellenbosch Fire & Rescue Services on (021) 808 8888.