More than 2,000 people and 40 local, national and international emergency response organisations, will be taking part in the world’s largest annual international disaster simulation exercise this week.

SIMEX is run by the University of Portsmouth, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service and the University of Liverpool from 14 to 16 May.

This year’s disaster simulation is based around a major storm/hurricane that brings heavy winds, rains and a storm surge resulting in severe flooding, mudslides, environmental pollution, collapsed buildings and displacement of people.

The realistic training exercise will feature crumpled cars, damaged buildings and numerous casualties with varying degrees of injuries at several different locations.

The event is directed by Phil Crook from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service. He said: “Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is among the best services in the country and our crews are regularly called upon to help in the aftermath of international disasters.

“Exercises like this are vital in developing and maintaining skills and getting valuable experience working alongside partners.

“These scenarios create a sense of realism you just can’t get on the drill yard or classroom and enable us to save more lives when disasters strike.”

Professor Sherria Hoskins, Dean of the Faculty of Science at the University of Portsmouth, said: "The SIMEX Series encompasses enthusiasm and skill from primary schools to universities to Government organisations. We are very proud to be a core part of this exercise which will develop the training of humanitarian and emergency response personnel that could lead to significant improvements in the efficiency of coordination and emergency response for those in desperate need.”

The annual SIMEX Series exercise, which started in 2012, comprises a mix of live, simulation and command and control events in order to test both national and international emergency response. It is also designed to provide a learning environment for participants to test disaster event response plans, policies and procedures.

This year’s exercise will take place across eight sites in Hampshire (including Eastleigh Fire Station, Fort Widley, Fort Purbrook, Wymering Manor, St Andrew’s Court at the University of Portsmouth, Andrew Simpson Sailing and forts near north Portsea).

Our first step as researchers is to test the theory, but we wanted to test it in real-life settings, with teachers and pupils in schools, not in the lab. When this showed promise we wanted to share what we had learned with parents and carers. So we decided to help them to support their children through children’s books with guidance notes on the theory and research underpinning them.

Professor Sherria Hoskins, Head of the Growing Learners research group