Mocked-up collision gives emergency services practical training experience
Main article content
‘We train for it – but we hope we never face the real life situation’ – is the feeling for many multi-agency training sessions, but one involving a road traffic collision is one almost everyone will be involved in.
Last Tuesday (24 September) emergency services gathered together at Bruntingthorpe for a joint emergency service exercise. Scores of fire fighters, police officers and paramedics had a role to play in the exercise, all learning from each other.
Specialist officers from all services were testing their skills, knowledge and equipment in the safety of the mocked-up collision – made all the more real with some Special Constabulary officers acting as injured people and walking wounded in graphic make-up courtesy of the De Montfort University art students.
There were a number of scenes including a bus, on its side, crushing two cars. A number of fatalities and seriously injured people.
The objective: save those who are injured and carry out a full investigation to find out what happened.
PC Tim O’Donnell, a senior collision investigator within the Serious Collision Investigation Unit, organised the training event.
He said: “All the emergency services meet at collisions, in scenarios just like this in real life. But we want to make sure we’re working well together – that we understand our roles and are all working in the smartest way towards the same goal, while preserving valuable evidence.
“Being able to do this in a mocked-up scenario is invaluable – it takes the pressure off as there aren’t any actual trapped people, there aren’t any real fatalities and there’s no risk of emergency workers being injured due to being in a controlled environment.
“These joint exercises are essential to developing and continuing a smooth, professional, collaborative approach to dealing with these types of incidents.
“Being a safe training platform enables us to come together to make sure we’re working well and to practice the practical elements of what we learn in theory.”
Police officers from different departments across the force played a part, from specialist roads policing – who would be the first on the scene and take over the initial scene management – to the collision investigators who look at the scene of a fatal or serious injury collision in far more detail.
Where there are people alive and trapped, the fire and ambulance service take charge of the rescue and the police ensure scene evidence is preserved.
Specialist equipment for assisting a rescue can all be used – airbags to stabilise the structure of vehicles, saws for cutting cars to gain entry to casualties, and the ability to take glass from its frame – are all things the fire service can use.
But all this must be done – initially – to make sure anyone trapped can be removed safely. Paramedics will often get into vehicles to ensure the safety of those injured and to make sure their head, neck and spine are kept stable, to prevent further injury.
PC O’Donnell added: “Although the weather was very poor last week, all involved put 100% effort into the scenarios producing a fantastic learning opportunity, where current procedures can be developed further, ensuring we continue with the best collaborative approach to dealing with collision scenes.”