European delegation visit KFRS's specialist marine incident training facility
Firefighters and SECAmb HART team in action
Kent Fire and Rescue Service (KFRS) welcomed a delegation of European visitors to its training centre in Westwood Cross, Broadstairs last week to see its specialist marine incident training facilities in action.
Guests, including Anne Martens, District Commissioner for West Flanders in Belgium and representatives from Dutch and French fire and rescue services, observed a practical exercise involving the facility’s new ship training simulator, which is laid out like a car deck of a ferry with a simulated ship’s bridge, and incorporates the facility’s breathing apparatus training complex to create a mock emergency scenario involving a cross channel ferry.
The exercise forms part of a newly-developed training course which focusses specifically on medical injuries and trauma at incidents involving vessels alongside.
The course, was delivered by KFRS in partnership with the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) Hazardous Area Response Teams (HART) Ashford and SECAmb critical care paramedics.
HART and SECAmb staff were required to locate, triage, provide clinical care and help rescue a number of casualties, played by KFRS volunteers, from the vessel car deck working with KFRS staff and ship’s crew in confined space working conditions.
KFRS Director of Operations Sean Bone-Knell leads the Chief Fire Officers’ Association (CFOA) National Marine Working Group and the pioneering training course that has been developed draws on the KFRS’s many years’ experience in marine incident management both alongside and off shore, as well as its involvement in the Marine Incident Response Group (MIRG) EU project.
The training also incorporates lessons learnt from the recent DFDS Seaways ferry incident, with training support provided by DFDS.
KFRS Director Sean Bone-Knell said: “It was a privilege for our Learning and Development team to welcome our European visitors and to be given the opportunity to showcase our superb marine incident training course and facilities.
“A collaborative approach to training for incidents of this type has mutual benefits, and by sharing KFRS’s specialist knowledge and expertise, our operational fire crews also gain invaluable experience of training alongside partner agencies, which develops improved working practices relating to casualty care at incidents of this type.”
Director of Dutch-based Vigiles Safety, Luc Wassenberg, who coordinated the guests’ visit, said: “I would like to thank KFRS and the HART team for inviting us and showing us around. Watching the exercise made me realise that KFRS and the HART team are very professional at handling incidents in difficult circumstances. As a Dutch MIRG team member it was good to see how well the HART and MIRG team members worked together, demonstrating great interoperability. I will take my experience back home in order to develop our national response, especially for incidents on board vessels.”
SECAmb HART Ashford paramedic team leader, Andrew Soames, said: “We would like to express our appreciation to KFRS and everyone involved in delivering this outstanding training course which helps us to develop joint operating procedures and policies for these types of incidents.”