Splash crash drama in Clyde exercise

EMERGENCY crews battled to save injured victims in the aftermath of a collision between a speedboat and a seaplane on the River Clyde.

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The realistic exercise saw a plane downed in the Clyde, with volunteers playing injured casualties and walking wounded
The realistic exercise saw a plane downed in the Clyde, with volunteers playing injured casualties and walking wounded

More than a dozen people who were on board the boat and aircraft were thrown into the freezing waters during yesterday's dramatic rescue operation.

Fortunately for everyone concerned, it was all part of a major exercise bringing together fire, police and ambulance teams to train them for a real-life situation.

The mock collision, near the Princes' Dock on the river, at Glasgow Science Centre, left 16 people in the water and sparked a full emergency response.

More than 30 members of the emergency services were involved in Exercise Broken Wing, which was hailed a massive success.

Within minutes of the collision, the plane began to sink, with only the tail section remaining above the water.

As the major incident unfolded, crews came across several seriously injured people who were in the water without life jackets.

Casualties included 14 of the aircraft's passengers and crew.

The multi-agency exercise involved personnel from Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, the Scottish Ambulance Service, Strathclyde Police, HM Coastguard and the Glasgow Port Authority.

Local residents and passers-by watched as fire crews used two new boats to steer through choppy waters and burning wreckage to carry the casualties to safety.

The new boats feature a specially shaped hull, which provides both a soft ride and excellent handling, allowing rescuers to manoeuvre accurately.

Other seriously injured passengers were reached by the technical rope rescue team.

Assistant Chief Officer David Goodhew, Director of Operations at Strathclyde Fire and Rescue, said: "Broken Wing deliberately set a nightmare scenario for crews, with numerous casualties in a dangerous environment.

"Involving hazards like water, fuel and fire – as well as casualties suffering impact injuries, burns and drowning – it provided a realistic challenge.

"While we hope never to have an incident of this type, exercises like this provide an invaluable opportunity for the emergency services to practice how we would respond."

As in a real-life situation, crews kept the casualties calm as they assessed their injuries.

Fellow crew members worked to rescue the casualties from the water and were seen giving Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to some of the injured.

Sixteen casualties were treated by ambulance crews as well as specialist firefighters.

The exercise was designed to test the ability of rescue teams to cope with a complex and fast-moving situation involving large numbers of casualties and hazards.

Mr Goodhew added: "The skill, professionalism and dedication of our firefighters and partner agency colleagues simply cannot be overstated.

"Realistic and complex scenarios allow emergency service workers to put their training into practice – working together just as they would do if the incident was real.

"As a result of this exercise, we will be more experienced and better prepared for a serious incident."

rebecca.gray@ heraldandtimes.co.uk

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