Every year Te Hiku runs two SIMEX to test its current capabilities and potential development opportunities for its Region Incident Management Team (RMIT) and Region Command Centre (RCC).

Earlier this month teams from across the region came together at Te Hiku Region HQ for a three-day SIMEX which put them and their preparedness to the test.

Day One covered a full briefing on the upcoming exercise and the establishment of the Region’s IMT, identifying and standing up roles which included Operations, Planning and Intelligence, PIM, Logistics, Resources, Safety, Liaison, Welfare and Recovery.

Day Two followed with a briefing to the incoming IMT based on a CAN report and overnight updates.

The incident as briefed was like something out of a Die Hard movie: A truck, illegally loaded with multiple lithium ion batteries, collided with a car in the south Waterview Tunnel in west central Auckland, causing both vehicles to burst into flames and trapping the drivers. As other vehicles crashed and piled up behind them, the fire became intense and smoke poured from the tunnel, preventing crews from entering. Adding to this, the tunnel’s deluge system ran out of water and its extraction fans broke down. When it was discovered that one of the trapped drivers had died, Police declared the site a crime scene.

With toxic smoke now streaming across into the north tunnel and towards a primary school located directly above, all entry and exit points were closed and the major Western Ring motorway route – which connects South Auckland, West Auckland and the North Shore – was brought to its knees. 

Incident Controller (Waitematā DM Rochelle Martin) set the tone and IMT environment for the response, which was shaped around the use of the ICS planning process as the incident developed. This process reflected incoming intelligence, Fire and Emergency procedures, pre-planning documentation tools, and actual response capabilities.

IC Rochelle Martin receives an update from Safety manager, Michael Tovine. 

What started as a Fire and Emergency response rapidly evolved into a joint operation as the day progressed, with agency partners and stakeholders including Waka Kotahi, Auckland Emergency Management, and Waterview Tunnel joining the IMT at Te Hiku HQ. The benefits of these external partners taking part were significant, not just for the Region but the agencies themselves, giving them visibility of Fire and Emergency processes, priorities, and objectives in a real time response.

Day Three saw an early morning operational briefing by the IMT to the ‘incoming’ crews and resources, based on a fulsome Incident Action Plan created by the IMT units the previous day.

The remainder of the exercise focused on robust assessment by the SIMEX facilitators and feedback from subject matter expert mentors who had been on hand throughout the exercise to guide and support those taking part.

Appreciation for the exercise and the opportunity it gave for practical, real time experience and training was unanimous, and it was noted how far the IMT had developed and matured since the last SIMEX in November 2023.

Special thanks to SIMEX facilitators Jamie Cowan, Phillip MacDonald and Dave Herries, the mentors, and the 50+ participants.



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