Hindhead Tunnel illuminated by Operation Sunrise

Code-named ‘Operation Sunrise’, 90 staff and volunteers from National Highways and local emergency services arrived to take part in a planned emergency exercise to test National Highways’ joint response to a major incident.

The exercise simulated a road traffic incident resulting in multiple vehicle fires, including an electric vehicle. It was played out as it would in real life, with the tunnel closed to make it as realistic as possible.

Tunnel Safety Officer Whitney Gee said: “With safety our number one priority, exercises like this are essential. We can demonstrate and rehearse what we, and our partners, would do in close to live conditions, while checking the tunnel’s life safety systems, operational procedures and emergency plans, both on-site and remotely, including evacuation of the tunnel.”

The planning and preparation for these events takes several weeks of dedication from each participating organisation.

The exercise was conducted alongside planned maintenance work, avoiding the need for future closures and keeping disruption to a minimum. With volunteers from the Casualties Union Charity simulating casualties, it was possible to rehearse medical triage and evacuation during the exercise and as this included a wheelchair user, National Highways could envisage improved guidance and accessibility arrangements for anyone with reduced mobility within the tunnel.


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