DOZENS of injured people thrown from their seats in a train
carriage and two people lying unconscious is a car after a crash at
a level crossing is a horror the emergency services hope never to
But firefighters, ambulance, police and rail professionals must
prepare themselves for the nightmare scenario in case the worst
ever does happen.
The emergency services and rail industry staff spent Sunday, May
19, training for this type of serious incident on tracks close to
Stockport Train Station.
Station Manager Pete Lamb, based at Greater Manchester Fire and
Rescue Service's Whitehill Fire Station, said: "It was a chance for
us to work with other agencies in a controlled environment on an
incident involving a large number of casualties, which we would not
normally get to do.
"It enables us to plan for that worst case scenario - that we
hope will never happen - and tests our response to it.
"It's a chance for senior officers to command a large scale
incident and for our GMFRS Trauma Technicians to work with North
West Ambulance Service staff and British Transport Police and get
as realistic practice as possible assessing large numbers of
injured people and dealing with this kind of incident.
"We must thank our rail industry colleagues such as Network
Rail, Northern Rail and Virgin as making an exercise happen like
this on a real carriage on the tracks has taken a lot of time and
planning on their part as well."
Claire Wise, Security and Emergency Planning Specialist at
Network Rail, said: "The exercise at Stockport was all about joint
working and inter-operability with our partners when responding to
a major incident.
"Level crossing safety in Britain is amongst the best in Europe
however where a road or footpath meets the railway there will
always be a risk. The event at Stockport was valuable to test our
emergency response procedures and how we work alongside other
agencies in the event of a major incident."
Lesley Ross, Virgin Trains' Station Manager at Stockport said:
"It's absolutely vital for the Stockport community that the
professionalism of our rescue services is tested in these kinds of
real life scenarios.
"We were more than happy to give our support on the day."
T/Superintendent Malcolm McKinnon said: "It is vitally important
that emergency services and partner agencies take part in these
exercises, particularly on the railway which can be an unusual
"We will continue to work with colleagues in all relevant
organisations to ensure that, should the worst happen, we are well
prepared to provide the best possible service for those
The exercise was made extremely realistic as GMFRS volunteers
were made up by the Casualties Union to make it look like they had
realistic injuries and each person involved was given a specific
role to play.
In the exercise, a train had collided with a car on a level
crossing, killing three people and injuring dozens of others -
which firefighters in Stockport could genuinely face with the
borough having two level crossings.
That is why firefighters in Stockport chose a rail-based
scenario when planning a medium-scale exercise, something they have
to do once a year.
Crews from Stockport, Whitehill, Marple, Cheadle, Moss Side and
Hyde were involved in the exercise. More images from the training
exercise are on our Facebook