Exercise Vulcan Full-scale Emergency Response Exercise

March 2016

Project Summary

International Safety Research (ISR) coordinated the planning, development, design and delivery of Exercise Vulcan, a two day full-scale exercise (FSX) and training session conducted in March, 2016 at the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC), Maple Ridge Campus. Led by Defence Research and Development Canada’s Centre for Security Science (DRDC CSS) and Transport Canada (TC), this training and exercise program was developed in response to a recommendation made by the TC Emergency Response Task Force (ERTF) following the catastrophic derailment that occurred in Lac-Mégantic, QC in July 2013. Exercise Vulcan was designed to identify the current capability in responding to Class 3 flammable liquids derailments as well as to inform the development of a national standard for awareness-level training to respond to such incidents. The training’s aim was to raise the level of awareness of volunteer firefighters of the complexities and dangers in responding to train derailments involving flammable liquids, primarily crude oil.

This task was divided into two main components. For the initial component, ISR developed and facilitated a tabletop exercise (TTX) to explore the current response capabilities of rural communities in responding to a Class 3 flammable liquids rail incident. During this portion of the project, gaps in the response effort were identified, primarily on the notification process, knowledge of support offered by the Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) and the benefits in taking a non-intervention type of approach to responding to such derailments.

ISR then leveraged the results of the TTX to develop a full scale exercise (FSX) and training session with the assistance and support of rail and oil industry experts. This two day training session included a full day of classroom and field training provided by industry and rail experts. The second day allowed for a scripted exercise scenario which allowed firefighters to respond to both a multi-car derailment as well as a single car rail fire.

To ensure the development of an effective training program and realistic scenarios for the exercise, an Exercise Design Team was established, comprised of experts from industry, the rail carriers, representatives from various provincial Fire Marshal offices, DRDC CSS and TC. ISR facilitated monthly planning meetings with this team prior to the exercise. More than 40 volunteer firefighters from the Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) and surrounding municipalities participated in this event, and ultimately demonstrated an increased ability to properly assess the hazards and appropriate response considerations that would be present at a derailment involving flammable liquids.

In order to accurately inform the development of a national awareness training program, ISR implemented a structured evaluation program. Quantitative and qualitative data was gathered through a series of data collection points. Prior to any training, the participating firefighters conducted a phone interview which allowed the collection of the baseline knowledge of responding to such events. Following the training session, these firefighters completed the same survey in order to measure any change in their awareness level. Evaluators also collected data concerning the firefighters’ response during the second day’s scripted scenarios and player feedback forms were also distributed and later analyzed.

Following Exercise Vulcan, ISR facilitated a half day evaluation process which identified training topics that require additional focus moving forward, as well as the requirement for the development of tools or guidance documents that could assist responders throughout the various phases of response to a derailment. ISR compiled the results into an After Action Report that contained recommendations for improvement for the continued development of a standardized training curriculum.

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