Malawi Red Cross Society (MRCS) and Police on Thursday rescued dozens of screaming passengers when Central East African Railways (Cear) conducted a fire simulation exercise in Lirangwe, Blantyre.
It sounds like something from a blockbuster thriller, but the huge emergency response was part of an elaborate drill to test their emergency system and response time of service departments such as the fire department, the Malawi Police Service (MPS), medical services and the community.
“It was a deliberate thing, we wanted to test our emergency system,” said Cear spokesman Chisomo Mwamadi.
“This kind of exercise demonstrates that should a terrible accident ever happen for real, service providers are ready to respond in the most efficient and effective way possible,” he said.
The exercise marks the first time the Red Cross and Police have enacted a live-action with the Red Cross responding after 20 minutes and the police arrived after 23 minutes.
The St John Ambulance arrived after 34 minutes while the fire department were the last to respond and arrived 38 minutes later.
Cear’s general manager for human rights, health, safety, environment, community and communications Titus Mtonyo said the exercise was a success as the services reacted within the expected time frame.
“We called for the services and from Blantyre to Lirangwe the first response arrived in 20 minutes and the community was also very cooperative and we are happy and those we hired to simulate acted in a more natural manner,” he said.
Lirangwe became the scene of a mock-accident and photos were circulating on social media, prompting Cear to clarify that it was a drill.
It was designed to test every phase of the emergency services’ effectiveness – from the moment an incident is reported, to the conclusion of a rescue operation.
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