Unusual training event

It would have been all our nightmares come true, a serious incident involving a train, two vehicles and multiple traumatically injured casualties. Fortunately, on Wednesday 11th July 2007, it was only an exercise!

Andy Ryding, the Team’s Training Officer, reports that we were privileged to have the use of the equipment and facilities at Washington Hall International Fire Training Centre at Euxton, and team members gathered early evening to be presented with two exercises involving all team members and much of the team’s equipment.

The first team members to arrive were immediately dispatched to a ‘farm’ incident, involving two exercise casualties who had become stranded on a grain silo, one of whom had suffered a heart attack, the other a leg injury. The professionalism of the team’s experienced rope rescue personnel meant that the first exercise casualty was safely on the ground in around 14 minutes from the start of the exercise, and the second exercise casualty a short time thereafter. Overseen by Gyles Denn and Chris Moody, the exercise was then repeated so that team members could reverse rolls and were able to undertake different aspects of the rescue. The entire event was swift and skilful, and was impressive to observe.

Meanwhile, the drama of the second exercise was unfolding as the remaining team members were called to attend a serious ‘train crash’.

Kit dump, sleeves up and away we go.

An advanced party of personnel were dispatched to the scene of the incident, where a train had collided with two vehicles.

Car 1 hit and overturned by the train.

As the rest of the team arrived in the team motors, the exercise casualties began to scream, shout, cry and run about, giving the exercise an element of realism.

This gentleman lost his head tring to train spot…

Hmmm, someone here is trying for an ’Overacting Oscar’

Under the direction of our team leader, Garry Rhodes, a triage procedure was executed, and expertly effected by Ken Oakes and Mike Marsh. Simultaneously, the area surrounding the incident was searched for further exercise casualties, and the crashed vehicles were investigated for injured occupants.

Team members asess and prepare to remove the occupant of the car.

Around 20 exercise casualties were on the train, with injuries varying from simple cuts and grazes, to serious head injuries, spinal injuries and major trauma, and the team was at full stretch meeting the demands of the scenario. Once the triage process was complete, the first exercise casualties were led to a holding area to be further looked after by team members.

Team members looking after casualties in the holding area.

Then one by one, the others were treated for their injuries and evacuated form the train and the vehicles. Team photographer Ged Clarke swung into his roll of press photographer and reporter, and spent some time pestering people for a story!

Casulaty being carefully eased out of the train carriage on a spine board.

A final search of the surrounding area concluded the exercise, and members and exercise casualties were able to retire for a well-earned pint in the bar on site.

I would like to point out that the entire exercise took place in a very controlled and safe environment, and I would like to thank Neil ‘I was talkin’ to this bloke at Washington Hall today’ Aspinall, who did the ground work to arrange our visit, and Gyles ‘I never want to see another risk assessment again’ Denn, who put a tremendous amount of effort into organising the ‘paperwork’ and safety requirements. A big thank you to our twenty or so exercise casualties (who were friends, and friends of friends of Gyles and Neil) and one small dog (where was Andy Kench when you needed him?)

Mother and baby are doing well & the little dog wants to be a search dog when they grow up.

All of who had to spend an hour and a half stuck in a musty and dirty train carriage.

Our faithful band of exercise casualties

Finally a huge thanks to the staff at Washington Hall, who provided us with a unique opportunity to practice in a challenging environment.

Oh, and Team Members and Trainees, good job well done!!