Airbnb Takes Part in London’s Biggest Ever Disaster Drill

Airbnb will today join emergency services, local councils and voluntary organisations in London to take part in the city’s biggest ever disaster exercise.

Airbnb was invited to take part in Exercise Unified Response by London Fire Brigade, following our involvement in disaster response programmes around the world. The exercise is a four day disaster scenario that mimics a building collapsing onto a busy London Underground station, involving over 1,000 casualties, thousands of tonnes of rubble, seven tube carriages and many hundreds of local and international emergency services providers.

As well as testing the preparedness of search and rescue teams, organisations including Airbnb will work together to support all those affected by an incident of this size, such as stranded commuters and travellers, relatives who can’t reach loved ones and emergency support workers who need accommodation during disaster relief efforts.

When disaster strikes, we know temporary accommodation for guests, displaced locals and relief workers can be hard to find. In such times of need, we work with local officials and our community to support these needs, aid relief efforts, and share important information from local officials with our community, including those who are visiting a city.  

Following the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris last November, hundreds of Airbnb hosts made their homes available to those in need. Airbnb is also working to support relief workers who need accommodation while helping with the migrant crisis in Europe.

The idea for Airbnb’s disaster response program came from our community – hosts who wanted to support their neighbors in the wake of disasters. Since its first activation in response to Hurricane Sandy in 2012 the programme has grown, continuing to provide temporary assistance to those impacted by disasters around the world, as well as relief workers and organisations supporting responses around the world.

London Fire Commissioner Ron Dobson said:

“Exercises of this scale are important to ensure that we are always ready to respond no matter what. Exercise Unified Response is not just about the rescues; an incident of this size affects everyone from thousands of stranded commuters who can’t get home, to distraught relatives who can’t reach loved ones.”

While tragic incidents of this scale are thankfully rare, we are proud to work with our community and partner cities to play a pivotal role in supporting disaster relief efforts. Should the worst happen, our community will always be there to help out in times of need. They epitomise what it means to be a host.