ONE of the biggest emergency services simulations in the country’s history will take place on the M62 in Warrington this weekend.

The motorway is due to be shut between junction 10 at Croft and junction 12 at Eccles overnight between 9pm on Saturday, August 10, and 9am on Sunday, August 11, due to roadworks.

And during the closure, around 100 emergency services workers from across Cheshire and Greater Manchester will take part in a staged major incident.

A simulated crash – codenamed Exercise Dark Knight – will involve an overturned coach, two lorries, eight cars and a motorbike.

Warrington Guardian:

The 57-seater coach that will be used during Exercise Dark Knight

Chris Chadwick, north rest resilience co-ordinator at Highways England, said: “Our motorways are among the safest in the world, and we help to keep them safe by carefully planning what we’d do on the rare occasions when there’s a major incident.

“We normally have to do this away from the motorway to avoid disruption to drivers, but will be able to make our latest scenario as realistic as possible by carrying out Exercise Dark Knight on the M62 when it’s already closed overnight for major construction work.

“We’re working closely with the emergency services on the exercise and are grateful to the volunteers who are giving up their time to help make our motorways safer for everyone.”

Around 15 members of the St Joseph's Players amateur dramatic society in Leigh will take part in the exercise, as will volunteers from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and the Casualties Union – painting themselves in fake blood and wounds to help make the incident as realistic as possible.

Warrington Guardian:

The St Joseph's Players will make up some of the 50 total volunteers taking part

Kath Roberts, who has been a part of the St Joseph’s Players since she was a teenager and also serves as a magistrate, said: “We’re one of the oldest amateur dramatic societies in the world, having been established in the 1850s, but I’m not aware of us being involved in anything like this before.

“We’ll still need to carry off our parts, but it will be a slightly different experience to appearing on stage in front of an audience.

“I see the consequences of road collisions when I sit as a magistrate, so anything we can do to help the emergency services improve their responses to incidents is definitely worthwhile.

“We’ve got a wide range of people taking part on the night, aged from 20 to 84, and it should give us a genuine feel of what could happen in real life.”

Extra lanes and new technology are being added to the nine-mile stretch of the M62 currently undergoing roadworks.

During closures, a diversion will take traffic on an alternative route along the M6, A556 and M56.

Jason Rain, operational training delivery manager at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said: “This exercise is a good opportunity for our crews to carry out imperative training for a major road traffic collision, working collaboratively with partner agencies.

“The fire service carries out a variety of training exercises on a regular basis to ensure that our firefighters have the most up-to-date training and can work efficiently with other emergency services to achieve the best possible results.”