On a snowy, wet London day, emergency services carried out a major drill in a section of Israel’s UK embassy on Sunday, in the first test of its kind in a foreign embassy.
Police, firefighters and paramedics took part in the exercise which officials say was planned well in advance and was unconnected to protests around the world in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the Guardian newspaper reported.
Some 50 police reserves posed as “casualties affected by a noxious substance” and embassy staff, though no actual embassy workers were involved.
“It was an exercise involving the emergency services, and the reason they do it is to see how they can link up in such events, and if there is anything that can be improved in the future,” a spokesman for London’s Metropolitan Police said.
The London Fire Brigade took to Twitter to warn the public that they should not be alarmed and it was only a drill.
If you are out and about near #Kensington High Street / Kensington Palace Gardens area today, we are taking part in a @metpoliceuk training exercise close by – it's not a real incident so please don’t be alarmed. pic.twitter.com/DKiL9iPXiy
— London Fire Brigade (@LondonFire) December 10, 2017
The head of the police parliamentary and diplomatic protection command said: “This was the first time we have been able to carry out a live exercise inside a foreign embassy and the experience and learning gained from this will be invaluable.”
He noted that it was an opportunity to prepare for dealing with chemical attacks.
“It also tested our joint response in dealing with a hazardous substance, which is important as it will help officers and staff be better prepared should we ever face this type of challenge for real,” he said.
However, he said that the event had been planned long in advance and was not related to Trump’s announcement or the ensuing protests.
“I must stress, however, that the exercise, which has been planned over several months, was not designed with any specific threat in mind, either in terms of the hazardous material element or the location,” he said.