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Helicopter crash landing tests East Kent's emergency response

Helicopter crash landing tests East Kent’s emergency response

Training exercise 'Crash Landing'.jpg
Training exercise 'Crash Landing'

7 November 2016

East Kent’s emergency services were put to the test on Thursday (3 November), when a helicopter crashed after it was forced to try and land at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

However it wasn’t real, it was an exercise called ‘Crash Landing’ to test the response of Kent Fire and Rescue Service, South East Coast Ambulance Service and the QEQM in their practices and how they work together during a large scale incident.

KFRS Station Manager Dan Upton, who was exercise incident commander said: “Exercises like this are crucial to us as incidents of this scale are, fortunately, rare. To be able to test our response, resources and practice is vital in understanding how prepared were are should something like this ever happen.”

KFRS sent two fire engines, ten firefighters and the command support unit to the scene.

The scenario involved a simulated forced helicopter landing on the helipad at the QEQM Hospital in Margate. The helicopter, which was transporting a patient to hospital, developed a fuel spillage and small fire upon landing. The crews were tasked with trying to contain the fire and to extinguish it. 

Training exercise 'Crash Landing'.jpg
Training exercise 'Crash Landing'

KFRS crews worked with SECAMB and the SECAMB Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) to extricate the co-pilot and medical patient from the helicopter and transfer them to waiting QEQM personnel, and implement environmental protection measures.

SECAmb paramedic and acting HART Operation manager in Ashford, Steve Dowdall said: "Joint exercises such as this are extremely worthwhile and provide our crews with the opportunity to develop and learn alongside our emergency 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 always take forward any learning points to ensure our patients benefit from the highest possible standards of care."

The emergency services worked for two hours to release and treat the casualties using the latest hydraulic cutting equipment.

John Weeks, Head of Emergency Planning for East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust and Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said: “Working alongside our partners in scenarios like this is really valuable. By ensuring a common understanding of the procedures and skills we are well prepared should the worst happen. We also enjoy the opportunity to practice our processes and response, and being able to practically do so on occasions like today brings a lot of value to the team. I'd like to thank all those who attended"

KFRS Station Manager Dan Upton again: "Everyone involved in today’s exercise will truly benefit from this opportunity, it’s been incredibly useful. It really does demonstrate the level at which we can all work together, and in-turn it’s very reassuring to know that should there be an incident of this scale, the emergency services of East Kent are prepared and well-practiced. Our post incident debrief will also help us to exchange invaluable learning outcomes.

“We are very grateful the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for supporting this exercise on such a large scale with one of their Search and Rescue Helicopters."

Training exercise 'Crash Landing'.jpg
Training exercise 'Crash Landing'
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