During February, seven members of our Cassel site in the UK conducted a training day in conjunction with Suttons Group, one of our logistics partners, at their Stockton-on-Tees depot.

Alex Plummer, Logistics, Compliance & Improvement Manager, told us about the purpose and importance of this type of real-time simulation exercise.

What’s the value of off-site emergency training exercises to the business?

We use training events of this nature to ensure that our product experts providing chemical advice to emergency responders have a good understanding of the equipment used when transporting dangerous goods. This enables the team to be as well prepared in the unlikely event of a serious off-site incident, as they are for our on-site emergency response.

How do you go about planning and creating this sort of training exercise?

Writing a training scenario takes a bit of creative thinking. It’s challenging as it has to be technically accurate and a realistic representation of our logistics, so being able to collaborate with one of our long-standing logistics service providers to develop the exercise is important.

This isn’t an off-the-shelf model that we can base such an exercise on, the scenario has to be tailored to reflect our very specific products and systems. We carefully recreate a typical logistics scenario and incorporate the unknowns that are likely to happen in real-life but that are difficult to predict – such as the impact of instant social media reports and how this could be best managed.

Why was the choice made to hold the exercise off-site with Suttons Group?

Setting up in a safe environment with the actual equipment that would be involved in an off-site transportation incident makes an exercise like this memorable in a way that desktop simulations cannot emulate. There is nothing like standing outside on a crisp late winter afternoon as the scenario plays out, being able to see the equipment in situ whilst discussing options and understanding what the physical problems may be. Directing a response from the end of a phone line is very different to being able to have that face to face interaction.

In the end, how realistic an incident do you think you managed to create?

Even if the real-life response from our response team would more likely be remote than on scene for members of our emergency response team, getting that hands-on appreciation of equipment and capability for a Level 2 and 3 emergency response really adds to the quality of the chemical advice that our product experts would provide when called upon.