Helicopters, ships, lifeboats and vehicles: everything came together during the LIVEX. During this large-scale mass evacuation exercise, the ferry Pride of Hull was evacuated. It had sailed to the Tweede Maasvlakte (Rotterdam) expressly for that purpose. Hundreds of extras took part in the exercise. The Coastguard coordinated the evacuation on the water, working closely with the Rotterdam-Rijnmond Security Region organisation, which took care of the evacuees on land.
The emergency response organisations and other parties involved regularly practice their own parts, but this exercise covered the entire picture. Communication, coordination and procedures: these were key throughout the LIVEX. “In my role as Head Exercise Leader, I am very happy with the deployment of the units and the adherence to the processes. I think we have demonstrated our ability to evacuate large numbers of people at sea through close cooperation between the relevant parties. Despite today’s success I will continue to emphasize the importance of ongoing practice and seeking each other out. Knowing the procedures and the people is crucial to the success of a mass evacuation,” according to Edwin van der Pol, who was Head Exercise Leader during the LIVEX.
Observed by three ministers
Ministers Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management), Ank Bijleveld (Defence) and Ferdinand Grapperhaus (Justice and Security) observed the evacuation procedure from the water before proceeding to view the assistance provided on land at the port of Berghaven. The Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is responsible for policy regarding maritime assistance; the Defence organisation directs the Coastguard; and disaster relief on land is the responsibility of Justice and Security.
The Coastguard Centre in Den Helder coordinated the evacuation at sea. On land that task was undertaken by an incident command post and a regional operational team from the Rotterdam-Rijnmond Security Region. Additional participants included the Defence organisation, the Royal Netherlands Sea Rescue Institution (KNRM), the Port of Rotterdam Authority and the Red Cross.
Methods of evacuation
Evacuees left the ship using an evacuation system and two of the ferry’s own lifeboats. In addition, several helicopters also took passengers off the ferry. Passengers and crew were taken to the port of Berghaven (Hook of Holland) where the Rotterdam- Rijnmond Security Region organisation had set up a shelter. Evacuees were registered, and the emergency services tended to the wounded.
“Many extras signed up for this special exercise. They experienced what it is like to spend some time afloat on a raft, for example. I appreciate that these participants sacrificed their Saturday for this exercise, and I want to thank them for it. Without such a large turnout the exercise would not have been realistic,” said Van der Pol afterwards.