NOT JUST FIRES

Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service provides much more than just emergency response to fires. Our crews are also highly trained in extrication from road traffic collisions, and our Technical Rescue crew is trained in all aspects of rescue work. Ian Nuttall from our Technical Rescue crew explains why real-life scenario training exercises are so valuable in preparing emergency service personnel for rescue work.

When there is a missing person the Police are responsible for the coordination of the search to find them and at certain incidents other specialist teams are required to assist; either to provide extra personnel or extra skills and equipment. On a Saturday in early April there was a multi-agency emergency services exercise that was undertaken at Bluebell Quarry located at the Midland Quarry Products Asphalt plant in Groby. This involved the Leicestershire Police Tactical Support Group, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service Technical Rescue Team and Leicestershire Search and Rescue (LeicSAR – pronounced as Lexar) – totaling around 40 personnel.

The scenario involved two missing persons in an apparent suicide attempt (based on an historical incident that occurred in the south of the UK), with the addition of a third casualty that was a passer-by. The initial response was the arrival of a Police Search Advisor to develop a search plan of the area. The next stage of the search then involved LeicSAR whose primary role is to provide specialist resources to Leicestershire’s emergency services to assist in the search and rescue of vulnerable and missing people in the Leicestershire area. After a clear and comprehensive safety brief, two LeicSAR teams were deployed around the top of the quarry and the three casualties were quickly identified.

Due to the casualty locations (two being on different quarry faces and one in the water), specialist rescue teams were required. These were made up of Rope Rescue and Water Rescue trained personnel from both Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service and Leicestershire Police and the casualties were successfully recovered by a combination of inflatable boats and rope rescue equipment.

This training event, which has the potential to occur at numerous locations in the future allowed three specialist teams to train and work together in a live environment that posed credible hazards. The experiences of the day and the learning outcomes from all three teams were achieved because of the access to this environment.

On behalf of everyone involved during the exercise, thank you to all at Midland Quarry Products who assisted in the development of the exercise. The exercise would not have been such a success without your input.

The ability to train in these environments is essential to both emergency services and the host sites.  This co-operation allows preparation for worst-case scenarios on site prior to any actual emergency and this prior knowledge is invaluable as it enhances the potential for successful outcomes for all parties involved.

IAN NUTTALL
Technical Rescue