Led by CFA, the usually tranquil country racetrack became a hive of activity as firefighters in protective suits and breathing apparatus used special showers to “decontaminate” around 15 “racegoers”.
The exercise gave CFA firefighters valuable experience practising their response to a Hazardous Materials (HAZMAT) incident.
CFA Eastern Metropolitan Regional Commander Graeme Armstrong said the drill was also an opportunity to work in a multi-agency environment while building on CFA’s HAZMAT capacity.
“CFA’s HAZMAT capability is increasingly in demand, particularly in the industrial areas of outer Melbourne and large regional cities. The ability to put our members through their paces in this type of environment is invaluable,” Mr Armstrong said.
The drill scenario simulated the deliberate release of a gas substance, effecting a small section of the crowd at a large regional race meeting.
Braving chilly conditions, volunteer “victims” were isolated and moved through three decontamination zones which included special enclosed showers.
Mr Armstrong said while the focus of today’s exercise was a deliberate chemical release, the response would be the same at a domestic chemical spill at a factory or workplace.
The drill followed a “table top” practice session conducted several weeks ago.
It’s the third counter-terrorism exercise conducted in recent weeks, and second under the control of CFA, following similar drills at Winton Raceway and Melbourne Airport, the latter overseen by Victoria Police.
Members of Victoria Police were on hand to observe today’s exercise.
Mr Armstrong said the drills also helped forge stronger relationships and cooperation between brigades within CFA and other emergency services.
Mr Armstrong paid tribute to great work of Operations Officer Gavin Wright in helping coordinate the event as well as the help of Maroondah Group & Yarra Glen Brigade.
He also thanked Yarra Valley Racing Centre management for the enormous genorosity in making the venue available.