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Firefighters and paramedics join forces in simulated car crash exercise

Firefighters and paramedics join forces in simulated car crash exercise

28 April 2016

An injured driver and his passengers are trapped in a car after it ploughs into the side of a building. Another casualty is trapped under the vehicle and there are multiple other ‘casualties’.  

This is the scene that Dartford’s firefighters and ambulance crews were confronted with at a joint training day held last Thursday (21 April). The event saw crews join forces and was aimed to test their practices and how they work together.

The jointly-led Kent Fire and Rescue Service and South East Coast Ambulance (SECAmb) event, which took place at Dartford fire station on Watling Street, included a simulated collision, involving a car crashing into the side of a building leaving a number of ‘mock’ casualties who were played by students from North Kent College, Dartford.

Co-leading the training day was KFRS crew manager, Jody Morgan, who said: "The collision scenario deliberately replicated the conditions crews might face during an incident of this type, where it’s essential that we work closely with our blue light emergency service colleagues.

"We’re called to a wide range of challenging incidents and have to work under pressure, often in confined and difficult working spaces. But our job is about saving lives and achieving the best possible outcome for those trapped or injured as quickly and effectively as possible and this simulated crash provided an excellent opportunity for both teams to test our response, incident command, casualty handling and time critical care skills."

The fire and ambulance crews worked for around an hour helping release and treat the casualties using the latest hydraulic cutting equipment such as:

  • Cutters that can cut through steel, spreaders that can force open vehicle doors that can’t be opened after a crash, powerful hydraulic rams that are used to create space and are able to lift a steering column

  • Stabilisation equipment including stab jacks, which provide a stable working environment if a vehicle is trapped on its side or on a slope and adjustable struts that can quickly stabilise a vehicle very securely including on slippery, uneven ground

  • Forceable entry tools that can pound, puncture, pry, twist and cut all types of barriers encountered by firefighters

  • Airbags that can lift a car or lorry to rescue someone trapped underneath

SECAmb's involvement focused on the care provided by and support given to its Critical Care Paramedics. It's CCPs are trained to a high standard including:

  • Repeated exposure to high acuity trauma

  • A greater degree of autonomous clinical practice 

  • Advanced patient assessment skills 

  • Advanced clinical decision making 

  • Advanced airway management capability 

  • Extended scope of intervention including ultrasound 

SECAmb’s Critical Care Paramedic Practice Lead Jim Walmsley added: "Training such as this is invaluable. It provides our crews with the opportunity to train and learn alongside our fire service colleagues in an environment which is as close to the real thing as possible. Thankfully multi-casualty incidents such as this are, as a percentage of our total work, very rare, so training such as this is vital. We will take forward any learning points to ensure our patients benefit from the highest possible standards of care."

The day included a range of demonstrations during the morning highlighting the latest equipment, tactics and techniques that firefighters use at collisions, with the crash scenario in the afternoon.

Jody ended: "It was an extremely useful day and we are grateful to our SECAmb colleagues and the students from North Kent College for joining us. After the exercise we carried out our debrief during which we exchanged some really valuable learning outcomes."

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