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Northern Ireland emergency services 'can cope with anything'

Published 26/11/2015

Northern Ireland's emergency services are geared up for the worst events imaginable
Northern Ireland's emergency services are geared up for the worst events imaginable

Northern Ireland's emergency services are geared up for the worst events imaginable, according to senior Army officer.

Whether a Paris-style street massacre or severe weather, statutory and voluntary agencies are ready and able to respond, said Lieutenant Colonel Hew Morgan.

"Northern Ireland is extremely resilient, probably the most resilient part of the United Kingdom. It is proven that we can deliver an immediate and effective response," he said.

Lt Col Morgan was speaking following a major review of the region's civil contingency arrangements.

Topping the agenda at the event in Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn was a briefing on safer cities.

Lt Col Morgan added: " (Paris) has just raised in all our minds how do you keep people safe in our cities when you have got these lunatics running around with bombs and guns.

"Working together and understanding who to call is the key thing.

"That is why you have events like this. We have an awful lot of equipment on display so that people understand what we have in Northern Ireland and what capability so that if you have a particular problem you will know which organisation will be able to bring that capability and importantly who to speak to."

The event also provided an opportunity to showcase some of the equipment, including drones, which can be used to deal with real-life emergencies.

Chief Inspector Patricia Foy, head of emergency planning with the Police Service of Northern Ireland, said: " It is a chance to re-look and realign exactly what our multi agency capability is and how that compliments one another and ultimately keeps people safe in Northern Ireland."

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, Ambulance Service, Coastguard and Mountain Rescue were also in attendance as well as representatives from th e Prison Service, An Garda Siochana, the Met Office and a host of civilian search teams.

Justice Minister David Ford, whose department overseas the voluntary and statutory emergency bodies, said they were well prepared.

Mr Ford said: "You would be in danger if you said there were never any gaps at all but the important thing is we see the agencies working together and the voluntary groups coming in, so they know how better to work together to protect the public.

"I think what we have seen is very good preparation. The test will always be if something happens."

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