Simulated stabbing spree at Cork nightclub to test emergency response

Simulated stabbing spree at Cork nightclub to test emergency response
The simulated scene in a nightclub during Operation City Safe, a critical incident operational response exercise involving multi agencies, in Reardens Complex. Picture: Denis Minihane.

A controlled and pre-planned critical incident exercise was carried out by emergency services in Cork today at Rearden's bar.

The operation, called City Safe, was put in place by the emergency services in conjunction with the management of the establishment and security bodies.

The operation was carried out with the help of students from UCC and College of Commerce who took part in the operation as nightclub goers and victims.

More than students were dancing in The Secret Garden, the upstairs club in Reardens Bar, when an ‘assailant’ went on an indiscriminate stabbing spree.

A member of the Armed Support Unit at the simulated scene in a nightclub during Operation City Safe, a critical incident operational response exercise involving multi agencies, in Reardens Complex. Picture: Denis Minihane.
A member of the Armed Support Unit at the simulated scene in a nightclub during Operation City Safe, a critical incident operational response exercise involving multi agencies, in Reardens Complex. Picture: Denis Minihane.

In the fake incident, there were four initial injuries. While security, Gardaí, Ambulance and management responded to the initial altercation, by calming the panicked crowd and tending to the injuries, a second attack occurred resulting in a ‘hostage situation’.

The hostage situation was dealt with by the Garda armed response unit, which is a second-tier response and is called in for any situation where a person is reported to be using a weapon of a serious nature.

The armed response unit used a 40mm launcher rifle to fire a sponge round to disengage the assailant before containing the individual.

Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said the incident was carried out very well. Chief Super McPolin said from what he saw, there were no glaring deficits in the responses of the emergency services, however, they would know more after they have a full debrief in January.

“In January, the organisations will come together to go through the exercise in fine detail, pinpointing areas where improvement can be made.” 

Rearden's bar owner Paul Montgomery said the exercise was an eye-opener. “The few minutes between the Gardaí arriving and the ambulance and then the armed response unit felt like an hour.

“This exercise really shows the need for a cool head and for leadership skills in times like these. We will be doing a lot more in-house training following on from this in order to be prepared for every eventuality."

'Casualties' lying on the floor in the simulated scene in a nightclub during Operation City Safe, a critical incident operational response exercise involving multi agencies, in Reardens Complex.  Picture: Denis Minihane.
'Casualties' lying on the floor in the simulated scene in a nightclub during Operation City Safe, a critical incident operational response exercise involving multi agencies, in Reardens Complex.  Picture: Denis Minihane.

The idea for the nightclub exercise came from Cerberus Security, who approached the Gardaí about planning a trial situation that coincided with other traumatic events that were occurring across the globe.

Cerberus Security Business Manager Fraser Sim told the Evening Echo “we noticed an increase in activity in different cities and we were concerned with what could happen in our own nighttime environment.” 

Following the initial spark of the idea, the Gardaí went about putting an exercise in place, culminating in yesterday’s fake nightclub attack.

Sergeant Peter Murphy, who is head of the Emergency Control room in Anglesea Station said the two most important things in these situations is leadership and communication.

The Fire Service were also in attendance at the exercise and said they were secondary to such an incident, but were always willing to help out by assisting Ambulance staff to remove casualties.

Sergeant Tony Crockett, who was a first line supervisor in Operation City Safe said on a busy night, Cork could have 20,000 to 25,000 people out and about, working and socialising and this type of incident will help all organisations to be prepared for any eventuality, be it a nightclub incident or a something involving a school, hospital or institution.

Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said this type of incident was likely to become an annual event from now on.

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