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Light aircraft lake crash – training scenario

Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) has led a successful joint exercise with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), to test the response to a light aircraft crash and give crews an opportunity to practice essential water rescue and rescue techniques in a testing scenario.

Operation Splash took place on Thursday, 17 January at Black Swan Lake in Wokingham’s Dinton Pastures Country Park, and included firefighters from Wokingham, Slough, Crowthorne, Caversham Road, Wargrave, Dee Road and Mortimer.

Specialist vehicles including a rescue boat were also deployed for the exercise, which simulated the aftermath of a mid-air collision between a Piper Cherokee aircraft and a microlight. Volunteers from the Casualties Union charity also took part, playing the role of injured pilots and passengers, to make the scenario as realistic as possible.

Firefighters and paramedics tended to several ‘casualties’ dispersed across an island and on the shore, having ‘collided’ in mid-air, above the lake. Organisers picked this particular scenario to test firefighter and paramedic rescue techniques in a difficult water rescue setting, which also acted as a chance to build on partnership working between the services, and practice vital emergency care skills.

The exercise was testament to RBFRS’s strategic commitment to working closely with and sharing emergency resources with other emergency services to ensure a swift and effective response when called to any emergency.

Group Manager Paul Jones, of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, oversaw the exercise.

He said: “Today’s exercise clearly demonstrates that the fire service is not simply about fighting fires. In addition to our primary role, we regularly attend a wide range of challenging incidents, such as the one role-played here.

“This scenario meant one crew had to transfer themselves to the island using the rescue boat, taking all their skills and cutting gear with them, while another crew worked on the second aircraft on the shore, with casualties in both locations.

“Testing and exercising our skills to the maximum is essential to ensure we are always fully prepared to protect the public from any situation, no matter how rare, and I would like to thank everyone who took part in helping us.”