Flooding- Aid

A Planning Practice Exercise


This practice ‘Planning Exercise’ is an example of ‘re-skinning’ a planning exercise (in this case the British Army Officer Selection Board’s ‘Winter Aid’) in order to use it again in a form that will look unfamiliar to any except those that have directly used the original. 

There is no ‘right’ solution, but there are many that have worse outcomes than others. Your task is to find the least-worst answers. Whether as a team or an individual, this should take about an hour.  


It is 2007 and the UK has suffered extreme flooding. With an average rainfall of 5.5 inches, some areas have received over a month’s worth of precipitation in just 24 hours. Many small villages have been evacuated, thousand of houses have been ruined, and fast-running floodwaters have had fatal consequences. As the floods continue to cause disruption across the UK, personnel from the Royal Marines, Royal Navy and Army Reserve have been working hard to provide flood relief assistance. On the 25th June, Yorkshire, The Midlands, Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire experienced extreme flooding. With rescue efforts already strained from supporting previously flooded areas, you and your friend Walter Hoff decide to join a small charity effort to help provide some extra flood relief.



On the 26th June, you and Walter travel from London to Gloucestershire to meet the rest of the team. You are introduced to Lisa Riley who is in charge of the project, Karl Langhorne a medic, Rachel Wright a volunteer and Steven Norfolk a mechanic. Introductions over and the brief begins. The team will leave tomorrow at 0900 hours.  Essential supplies of blankets and sandbags will be taken in 3 trucks; medical supplies and food will be carried in 2 Land Rovers and one truck. The team plan to take Route A along the M5 and M6 passing through Birmingham, and stopping for half an hour in Hereford some 30 miles away to donate excess supplies.  The Land Rovers will be driven by you and Walter. The weather forecast is worsening with further flood warnings covering the entirety of The Midlands. The aim is to deliver the supplies to Yorkshire by 21:30 latest, which is half an hour before nightfall.

The journey starts off well and you keep to the scheduled timings. However, by the time you reach Herefordshire at 1100, your Land Rover and 2 trucks, one of which is carrying medical supplies, need to stop at a garage for repairs.  Lisa decides to leave you, Walter and Steven to do the work and then to carry on to Yorkshire in the morning.  Before she leaves, Lisa places you in charge and says she will telephone the garage later in the evening.  Steven tells you that the truck is using too much fuel and that if 4-wheel drive has to be engaged consumption will drop by half from  6 mpg.  The tank holds 60 gallons.

At 2100 hours Liz telephones on a bad line.  She tells you that Birmingham and surrounding areas have been extremely flooded with weather conditions only looking to worsen over night.  She was told that the charity ‘Midland Aid’ is planning to begin clear-up by 1600 on 27th June.  The M6 Toll road has a reasonable surface but it is estimated to have grid-locked traffic over the next few days due to considerable road closures.  As a result you estimate to spend around 5 hours in traffic, and a speed reduction down to 40 mph where traffic is moving.  Route B is another option: although it consists of mostly country roads which are narrow, winding and poorly maintained. Steven estimates that you should be able to manage 30 mph in 4 wheel drive.  Lincolnshire was also hit by extreme flooding on the 24th, and its clean up effort is midway through. You are unsure whether you will be allowed to pass through with such large vehicles. 

The situation in Yorkshire is horrendous, The medical centre and many schools have been hit by fast-running flood water. Many of the counties most vulnerable cohabitants are in desperate need of medical assistance. Karl says that the medical supplies must arrive by 1830 hours if not before.  Liz tells you not to travel at night, but to leave as soon as the vehicles are ready to leave the garage, which is at 0930 hours. The route is up to you but as the team do not receive petrol donations until back in Gloucestershire, they must take the return journey into account.


You, Walter and Steven set off at 0930 on the 27th. You travel from Gloucestershire to the main M6 junction, with the intention to make your final decision on the route once you meet the junction. At the junction they notice a small, broken down truck with ‘Midland Aid’ written on the side. You  have enough space in one of your trucks to carry the stranded supplies. However, the extra weight would reduce the truck’s fuel efficiency by at least a third. What do you do?



Assess the problem; decide your aims, consider the alternative courses open to you and arrive at your plan giving your reasons. Allow 30 minutes for any immediate action you feel you should take.