THE Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall today met members of the emergency services to thank them and the Local Resilience Forum Partners for their work together during last winter’s severe weather and flooding that took place in the West Country.

Their Royal Highnesses visited the Fire Services Academy, Fire Behaviour School based at Exeter Airport where they watched a multi-agency training exercise by the Police, Fire and Ambulance services. The exercise was based upon a critical incident, of a hazardous materials spill, and showed all three services combining their efforts, equipment and training in order to safely rescue casualties from a building and from vehicles.

Chief Fire Officer, Lee Howell, Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service said: “Colleagues from all around Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service and further afield were involved in responding to adverse weather related incidents throughout last winter. We were all shocked at the media images of our affected communities.

“We supported our communities and national infrastructure in the best spirits of the emergency services and I am very proud of my teams for their professional efforts over a number of weeks and months. The joint working of our Police and Ambulance colleagues supporting communities, as well as Local Resilience Forum partners was outstanding.

“The Service is proud of their response to this sustained challenge and we are immensely grateful for the recognition from their Royal Highnesses here today.”

Assistant Chief Constable Paul Netherton said: “Devon and Cornwall works fantastically as a local resilience forum to deal effectively as a multi-agency response in a time of crisis. We constantly train and prepare so we are ready when things like the winter storms and floods happen. The effect on our communities was immense, and without the close partnership work that goes on year round, we would not be able to respond in the way that we do.

“All agencies have had to change the way in which they work as a result of less resources, but that is not at the detriment of safety to our communities and we will continue to strive to improve community resilience with support of emergency services whenever possible.”

Paul added: “All responders and our communities should be proud by the way in which they dealt with the winter storms in the face of considerable adversity. Working as one team is key to the success.”

Head of Emergency Planning Resilience and Response, South Western Ambulance Service, Chris Chambers said: “Staff of the South Western Ambulance Service were involved in responding to routine and emergency calls throughout the winter of 2013-14. From mid-December onwards, the organisation experienced many challenges from coastal, pluvial and fluvial flooding as well as hazardous conditions with severe rainfall and very high winds. Throughout this period ambulance crews, dispatch and call takers as well as the supporting staff were all involved in a coordinated effort with our LRF partners to ensure that all patients received the Right Care in the Right Place at the Right Time*.

“The Trust is immensely proud of the way that all staff responded throughout this difficult time and is very grateful for the recognition from the Royal couple today.”