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Preparation mode for emergency services in Seymour

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Emergency services leaders converged on Seymour last week as part of a wide-scale training exercise simulating a natural disaster.

Representatives from the Country Fire Authority, CFA, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Victoria State Emergency Service, SES, the Australian Defence Force and others participated in the joint training exercise that simulated a bushfire in the vicinity of Tooborac and Pyalong.

During the mock emergency, authorities decided to issue a shelter in place warning for the Tooborac community and leave now warnings for the Kilmore, Broadford and Pyalong areas.

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The training exercise aimed to prepare emergency services for what could be busy flood and bushfire seasons in spring and summer.

CFA assistant chief fire officer Paul King said it was the first of two inter-agency training exercises planned for this year.

“All of those agencies get an opportunity to practice the things they need to do to keep the community safe during the peak summer period,” he said.

“We’ve got the police planning for the evacuation of those towns, we’ve got the fire agencies all working together to try to control the fire and stop the forward spread, we’ve got the relief agencies making sure the people in the local community are well looked after, the road agencies making sure we can close roads off and keep people safe, but just as importantly reopen them in a timely way so the community can get back to normal.

“We’ve had a couple of quieter fire seasons over the last couple of years, so exercising is a really important way to revisit those skills, rebuild the networks and get to know the agencies we all work with.”

Incident controller and SES operations manager Brendan Corboy said the exercise was a ‘great opportunity for emergency management practitioners to get together’.

“It’s going to be a busy year with floods through the spring and heightened grass fire [potential] through the summer, so it’s really important to get together and go through the consequences so the community can be seen,” he said.

The Bureau of Meteorology has forecasted above-median rainfall in northern Victoria from September to November.

State Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said people should be prepared for both floods and fires.

“The outlook suggests Victoria will have a wet start to spring and it’s important Victorians begin to plan for floods and storms, in the same way they prepare for potential fires,” he said.

“What is the plan you are putting in place for yourself, your family, pets and livestock? As part of your plan, think about the clear triggers and when you will enact your plan,” Mr Crisp said.

“Good information will always lead to good decisions and Victorians need to know how they can access good information – that’s through the VicEmergency app, social media, including Facebook and Twitter, and through emergency broadcasters.

“As a sector, we’re getting prepared, but my question to Victorians is: are you prepared?”

The next inter-agency training exercise will be in Tallangatta later this month.

Authorities said each emergency service would also conduct its own training sessions.

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