HUREX 2017 drill plays out massive explosion scenario

CAY BAY–The annual hurricane drill HUREX brought together police, ambulance, Fire Department, Voluntary Corps of St. Maarten VKS and other emergency response services, as well as utilities company GEBE, St. Maarten Medical Center (SMMC) and SOL fuel supplier. The massive exercise took place at the GEBE power plant in Cay Bay on Tuesday morning.

HUREX takes place on an annual basis and includes the 10 Emergency Support Functions (ESFs) of the country’s Office of Disaster Management (ODM) along with the Dutch military detachment based on the island and additional military resources and assets from overseas.

The exercise allows all relevant Government agencies along with the military to familiarise themselves with operational protocols in the event of a disaster, in this case a hurricane threat/disaster. The exercise takes place under the banner of the Fire Department/ODM.

The scenario was that a massive explosion has taken place at the GEBE power plant in the morning and the power and water services were immediately interrupted. Eleven persons are scattered in the surrounding areas and some have lost a great deal of blood. There are two casualties and the street has only one way to get in and one way to get out.

The Fire Department was the first emergency service provider that arrived at the plant. Fire officers assessed the situation and called the Ambulance Department for assistance. Two ambulances arrived at the plant shortly afterward and started to assist victims. Police were also on hand to keep the public from interfering with the disaster area and directed traffic during the drill.

VKS and Red Cross were also on hand, but even though most uniformed services were on scene, there were not enough personnel to assist all 11 injured persons at the same time. The Marines arrived and provided the needed manpower and some two hours later the situation was under control.

Fire Department Repression Section head Nico van Zand told The Daily Herald that all parties managed to see what they can improve on and that Tuesday’s drill was one of the largest in the history of St. Maarten. “I do apologize to motorists and residents of the area for the inconvenience caused during the drill, but this training was important for all emergency services,” he said.

The ODM falls under the Ministry of General Affairs.

Source: The Daily Herald