Night time emergency exercise

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Emergency services descended on an airfield in Cambridgeshire on Wednesday night to test how they work together when responding to night time incidents.

The exercise was arranged by the East Anglian Air Ambulance so it could test its crews now that they are available to respond to incidents which occur during the hours of darkness. Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service, the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), and Cambridgeshire Constabulary were all present as events unfolded at Conington Airfield, near Peterborough.

Earlier in the day, the aftermath of a road traffic collision was set up on the site and at 10pm the exercise began as fire, police and ambulance services were called in to action in order to free and treat casualties being played by actors and dummies. The East Anglian Air Ambulance left their base and Cambridge Airport and landed on scene shortly after following a call to attend to treat and airlifted the most seriously injured.

Those taking part in the ‘live play’ were asked to respond to whatever they found on scene and act as they would if it was a real emergency.

Patients were cut out of their vehicles and treated at the scene before one was loaded in to the aircraft in order to be flown to hospital, all while being observed by officers assessing how the teams reacted to what they encountered.

Gerry Hermer, Aviation Lead from the East Anglian Air Ambulance, said: “We’re extremely grateful to the other emergency services for coming out and helping us to test our night time procedures. Exercises like this are an essential part of training our pilots and clinical teams before they respond to incidents like this and all of us have benefitted from this evening.

“Simulating events like this mean that we can all learn from each other so that when we respond to a real life incident, the patient receives the best possible care available, safe in the knowledge that those helping them have practiced these procedures time and time again.”

Jerome Neville, Station Commander at CFRS, said: “It’s always important for us as a Service to understand the capabilities of other agencies and emergency services. The ability to work together to provide these realistic exercises means we learn how to improve the partnership working we already enjoy, whilst allowing us to look at the emergency response we offer to the public.

“These joint training sessions are invaluable for increasing the efficiency of how we all respond to an emergency, which will ultimately save lives in our community.”

EEASTs Head of Resilience and Special Operations, Robert Flute, who attended the exercise said: “The exercise was a splendid example of multi-agency working and demonstrated the enhanced capabilities of the East Anglian Air Ambulance and, above all, aiding a successful patient outcome. EEAST looks forward to utilising this HEMS asset and will be exercising the arrangements at further locations around the region.”

Assistant Chief Constable Mark Hopkins said: “The exercise was an excellent opportunity for us to work alongside colleagues from the East Anglian Air Ambulance and other emergency services in order to test our joint response.

“Exercises like this are very important because they allow us to accurately simulate a potentially real-life event and so prepare more effectively. I was impressed by the contributions from all the agencies involved.”

Further exercises like this will be taking place around the region in the near future to continue and enhance air ambulance training.