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Exercise 'broken wing'

Exercise 'broken wing' Gwydyr, North Wales

A major multi-agency emergency exercise, Exercise Broken Wing, took place in North Wales recently.

The exercise was co-ordinated by Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service’s Urban Search and Rescue team.  Alan Nicholls, from the Norfolk team, said: “The exercise was designed mainly to see how well our Urban Search and Rescue teams are equipped to mobilise and deploy personnel and equipment safely to a large scale incident, such as an aircraft disaster, in remote areas. It also aimed to test skills such as rope rescue, search management, hot cutting, chain saw and heavy transport rescue techniques.”

Exercise Broken Wing was held over two days in the Gwydyr Forest and involved 106 personnel from the following organisations : six USAR Teams , Mountain Rescue, RAF Search & Rescue , North Wales Air Support , North Wales POLSA, Norfolk POLSA , Norfolk Paramedics , North West Paramedics . The Army supported the event by providing the accommodation for the duration at Capel Curig Training Camp.

The scenario was as follows, two aircraft had collided in mid air and crashed  somewhere over Gwydyr Forest. USAR teams were deployed to help search for the missing aircraft along with the crew and passengers. The first day and night was the main ‘Wide Area’ Search & Rescue phase followed by a day of  rope rescue scenarios, transport incidents and hot cutting tasks.


The main exercise objectives were:

  • Mobilise and deploy personnel and equipment safely to the incident;
  • Establish a suitable Incident Command System at a Wide Area Search incident;
  • Carryout helicopter operations ,transporting resources , slinging loads safely;
  • Carryout command functions , Tactical decision making and prioritise search activities with the resources available;
  • Safely operate the provided USAR equipment during various rescues;
  • Demonstrate safe navigation during day and night;
  • Safely complete rope rescues;
  • Demonstrate appropriate Casualty Management;
  • Liaise with other multi agencies;
  • Use suitable field craft and manage team and personnel welfare issues living in exercise  accommodation;
  • Carryout effective handovers and debriefs to oncoming rescuers;


Alan Nicholls said: “Exercise Broken Wing was designed to be a challenging test and, overall, all objectives were met, the event was a great success. The resources used for and running of the exercise were second to none and the feedback from those who attended has been extremely positive. The Norfolk Team would  like to thank everyone who took part and also convey our thanks to the Army and to Capel Curig camp who accommodated us.”

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