VOLUNTEERS from a number of emergency response organisations will be put through their paces during a three day exercise.

Operation Resilient Endeavour starts this evening (Friday) with the exercise continuing into the weekend. It is being led by Chilmark-based disaster response charity Serve On. Other organisations taking part include Wiltshire Search and Rescue, Team Rubicon UK, Wessex 4x4, Support 2 Ops, RAYNET and a team from Rapid Relief.

The exercise will involve 135 volunteers and will see them use their skills to tackle different scenarios. There will be flood rescues and evacuations, searches for missing people, medical transportation, dog searches and more, which will take place over 120 Sq km of Wiltshire and Hampshire. The exact location of the exercise has not been disclosed.

Serve On operations manager Craig Elsdon, said: “It is a multi agency exercise that involves a lot of volunteer agencies that support emergency services and the community at times of disaster and emergencies.”

He says these types of exercises are “massively” important, adding: “You do lots of low level training so the guys and girls get very good at the skills but it is being able to put it all together in an operational context and working with other agencies.”

The exercise will also give the organisations involved the chance to highlight the skills volunteers can offer during bad weather or major events to emergency planners as well as members of the emergency services who will be paying a visit during the operation. There will also be an element of sharing skills among the agencies.

Members who spot the volunteers and vehicles during the exercise are being urged not to be worried. Craig added: “The general message is don’t be alarmed, it’s all an exercise.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about volunteering go to serveon.org.uk