Emergency services in major training exercise at North Weald
Lifestyle / Sat 25th Jan 2014 at 09:32am
Exercise Blackout took place at North Weald airfield.
The aerodrome was transformed into a major accident scene where a light aircraft had crashed onto a motorway, causing a pile-up involving cars, two lorries, a coach and a motorbike.
There were many casualties, with people trapped in vehicles, some of whom were critically injured or even dead. There were also walking wounded, played by medical and nursing students.
The exercise was designed to promote partnership working between air ambulance crews and other emergency services – Essex County Fire and Rescue Service, Essex Police and East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) – as well as the Highways Agency, North Weald Airfield Fire Operations, St John Ambulance, BASICS (British Association for Immediate Care) and BJG Recovery Solutions.
Specialist ambulance crews abandoned modern gadgets in a challenge that saw them take a map and compass through woods during a night-time exercise.
The hazardous area response team (HART) from EEAST gathered at Tolmers Scout camp in Cuffley and were tasked with finding three teenagers who were out camping when one of them suffered serious burns from an exploding camping stove.
Using grid references from their patient’s mobile phone, they had to pinpoint a location using Ordnance Survey maps and plan a route to move as quickly and safely as possible, using an all-terrain Polaris vehicle, covering an area of around five kilometres.
Gary Perkiss, HART team leader, said: “Due to the darkness and bad weather, the ground conditions were extremely difficult so the team were really tested and were out there for around two-and-a-half hours.
“We try to make these exercises as realistic as possible because if this was a real-life scenario we could use GPS mapping units but can’t always rely on a signal, so these skills can be extremely useful.”