DUBAI // About 2,000 visitors were startled by the sirens of rescue vehicles storming the beach at Mamzar Park as a simulated emergency evacuation got under way yesterday.
The hour-long emergency drill was organised by Dubai Municipality and began at 10am. The beach park area was cleared in less than 30 minutes.
Lifeguards then ran rescue exercises and emergency medical teams administered first aid to “victims”.
Taking part were about 40 participants including lifeguards, marine-rescue units, medical specialists, and government health and safety officials. Dubai Police rescue teams, the Department of Ambulance Services and Civil Defence also participated.
Redha Salman, director of the Public Health and Safety department at Dubai Municipality, said the drill was primarily a training exercise for the municipality’s emergency personnel.
“This was a routine, scheduled drill, to test how well prepared the emergency response team is and, at the same time, test the plans and procedures we have put in place to handle such disasters,” he said.
He said the training also helped test the team’s ability to communicate and cooperate with other government departments in stressful conditions.
Mr Salman said the evacuation drill had nothing to do with an announcement last Wednesday that UAE security forces, in coordination with their counterparts in Saudi Arabia, had arrested a terrorist cell who were plotting attacks in the region.
He added that their evacuation had been planned weeks in advance and was not related in any way.
“This has nothing to do with terrorism, we are testing our capabilities to react to emergency situations,” Mr Salman said.
“Dubai Municipality’s emergency response team carries out scenarios regarding natural disasters and technical disasters every few months.”
Yesterday’s scenario was centred around responding to high-tide emergencies and stormy weather conditions.
“We concentrated on evacuating swimmers and people on the shore and getting them all to safety within a specified time bracket,” he said.
“With what is happening around the world with climate change and severe weather conditions as well as an increase in the number of incidents, we have decided to increase the priority of such emergency drills.”
The types of scenarios the municipality runs throughout the year are determined by what natural disasters are likely for that time of year, Mr Salman said.
Emergency teams are most on their guard for offshore emergencies at this time of year. Rough seas have already prompted the National Centre of Meteorology and Seismology to issue warnings against going out to sea in the past few days.
On Friday evening, a boat sank off the coast of Umm Al Quwain (UAQ) and its crew of six were rescued by the coastguard and UAQ police.
Strong winds and more rough seas have been forecast for later this week.