Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Practice makes perfect (part 2)


For the purpose of this training exercise, that has been designed to test the emergency services and airports disaster plan, here is a ‘crashed plane’ and 150 casualties, both dead and alive; deal with it. And they did

As I mentioned in the previous post, there are different grades of volunteer casualties, the largest group were a bunch of aviation enthusiast bless ’em they were ‘trapped’ in what was describes as representing a an ‘airport departure lounge’ but as it was a windowless bunker they got to see very little of the action, before being rescued stuck on a coach and toted off back to base for a cup of tea and a bun and sent on their way home with the T-shirt; our gang however got the grandstand view of the proceedings from a ‘transfer coach’ that had been caught up in the accident, we were mainly walking wounded, with a sprinkling casualties with problems like breathing difficulties who needed assistance urgently. Once the action started, it made an impressive sight and there was a palpable shift in atmosphere in the coach, as the area was flooded with resources, we were well aware that we were hamming it up like the first night of the village panto, but what crossed all our minds was how we couldn’t start to imagine what the casualties might feel like if it were for real.


It soon became apparent that there was a lot of ‘just out of the box’ kit being put through its paces, and you could see that in some cases the biggest headache was getting the kit out of the box, but practice makes perfect.

Once the firefighters had, forced their way on to the coach, ambulance personnel, worked thorough us, pulling the most in need of medical assistance, we were then left on the coach, in the tender care of a firefighter, I had to say I felt a tad sorry for him, all his mates were over the embankment, at the real action the plane fuselage with the ‘premier league’ casualties who had the most dramatic injuries and who were all ‘contaminated’ some supposedly noxious substance and who had to be ‘decontaminated’ with a bit of kit that was proving to extremely difficult to get out of the box, keep practicing guys. Being ‘decontaminated’ involved the casualties striping off to their swim suits, and it

became apparent that some of the ‘premier league team’ were especially keen on this aspect, of the exercise; humm, well each to their own hobbies/fantasies


Whilst this was going on, more and more people and kit were appearing on the tarmac, of particular note was ‘incident command’ the sort of caravan Porta-cabin thing, that you see at gymkhanas, here all the people in the most important vests and with the biggest clip boards took up residence. We were all led in a crocodile across the tarmac to an inflatable ‘hospital tent’ where we were checked over and labeled, this for me, proved to be the most hazardous part of the exercise, the nurse who was examining my wounds, and was wearing her new shinny white helmet and visor, that was straight out of the box; lent forward and clocked me straight across the bridge of my nose, with the visor,ouch.

Then an emergency service vehicle (that should remain anonymous,) backed into the generator, that was inflating the tent, sending it skimming across the tarmac like a hopscotch stone, down came the tent on our heads, like a kids bouncy castle at the end of a party, ‘Every Body Out’ yelled a person in a very important vest, and we all came stumbling out from under the folds of vinyl

I am sure there was a lot learnt and ‘a lot to take back to the debrief’, I only hope they never have to use the skills they practised as I am sure everyone would like to keep it like this, just an exercise. Fortunately for us we didn’t have to wait around whilst they worked out how to get all the equipment back in the box

Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

4 thoughts on “Practice makes perfect (part 2)

  1. Oooh – I feel for your schnoz!

    I have to admit the deflating tent bit made me chuckle. 🙂

  2. A friend of mine was a fireman all his working life. Being stationed just a few miles from Heathrow he always attended the major crash exercise that was held there every year. It was always most interesting to hear what he had to say about it afterwards.
    Another friend worked for British Airways and was always a volunteer casualty on such exercises.
    These two entries were fascinating to read, especially as I worked in the fire and life safety industry for many years, and attended numerous government and industry meetings about major disaster plans including air crashes. Sadly I also attended the aftermath of several real disasters, and the meetings held after.
    Needless to say I have the greatest regard for all who work in the emergency services, especially when they attend a major disaster and are stretched to the limit both physically and mentally.

  3. We were very aware how, whilst a very valuable exercise, this sort of thing can only hint at the reality.
    Mr UHDD and I drove through Lockerbie on Christmas day 1988, on our way south to see our family, it was just four days after the Pan Am air disaster
    We will never forget the scale of the devastation, the huge chunks of fuselage, still lying at the side of the carriage way the smoking crater and the military helicopters overhead.

  4. I am glad to hear that you participated in this. You were helping folks in the event something like this might someday happen. I second your observation: “what crossed all our minds was how we couldn’t start to imagine what the casualties might feel like if it were for real.”

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