Emergency services combine in Beccles for an exercise

IT is a scenario that emergency crews hope they will not face – a serious crash involving a plane and a car.

This was the situation firefighters and special police officers had to deal with at Beccles Airfield.

But it was not a real accident – it was a training exercise designed to test the emergency response to an incident at the site.

Suffolk Fire and Rescue and Suffolk’s Special Constabulary took part in the exercise last Tuesday. It was organised by the fire service and Rain Air, the owners of Beccles Airfield.

Suffolk’s Special Constabulary was initially there to direct traffic around the site. However special sergeant Daniel Peck identified it was the ideal opportunity to test his colleagues.

“We like to take opportunities such as these to broaden the training of special constables,” he said.

“On the day we dealt with a number of aspects including crowd control, preservation of the scene, assisting the fire and ambulance services where we could, establishing how the incident occurred, dealing with members of the public as spectators, searching the site for items discarded from the aircraft, identifying the deceased and injured and passing messages to their families.

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“Eighteen members of Suffolk Police’s Special Constabulary took part and there were 30 role players, a number of spectators, Rain Air emergency ground crew and several appliances from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service, including a mobile command unit and a vehicle with specialised cutting equipment. It is hoped the training will serve all the emergency services well if there is a similar incident in north-east Suffolk.”

Rob Gooderham, Rain Air head of operations, said the exercise had been very worthwhile.

“It was really good from our point of view, as it gives an opportunity to test procedures in the closest you can get to a real incident. We learned a lot, and to work closely with the emergency services is invaluable.

“We’d like to thank everyone for giving up their time to do this.”

Mark Hardingham, Suffolk’s deputy chief fire officer said: “Fortunately real emergencies such as these are very rare. However, it is vital that when they do happen everyone involved works closely together. Exercises such as these are an excellent opportunity to practise these arrangements and ensure that all the services involved are well prepared.”