Article by Simon Gardiner, Second Lieutenant training officer at Drouin West Rural Fire Brigade.
Instead of having dummies playing casualties, we had help from five volunteer actors (one civilian, two Drouin West members and two SES members) covered in fake blood to make it appear more like a real accident.
Two casualties were trapped in one vehicle. The passenger was the last and hardest to free, and unfortunately the driver ‘died’ halfway through extraction.
The driver of the other car was then extracted. We had a mobile phone giving the impression that he was texting when the accident happened, which the police took as they got on scene before the driver could hide it.
All casualties were extracted.
The third car was fully alight when fire crews arrived, after it swerved around the accident and caught on fire. The driver had staggered into the bushes and was later found unconscious and badly injured.
Drouin West Incident Controller Lieutenant Murrell rolled out two lines on arrival, one to focus on the fully alight car and one to back up the SES attempting to extract the trapped occupants.
In addition to the tanker, slip on and field command vehicle provided by Drouin West brigade there were two ambulance units, two SES rescue vehicles and two police units on scene – 35 emergency personnel in all.
Victoria Ambulance had six members on scene. Four members were off duty and volunteering their time and knowledge for the day.
They had their hands full with a relative (played by an actor) of one of the trapped persons. While it first seemed that they were trying to get to him and see if he was OK, the relative was in fact trying to grab the mobile phone from the car, unaware the police had already taken it.
Greg Reedy from Warragul Towing volunteered his tow truck and time to remove the vehicles after the exercise.
A debrief was held back at Drouin West fire station, with all members and personnel enjoying a well-earned BBQ lunch and chat. A member from each agency talked about the exercise and what they got out of it.
Victoria Police talked about how their job starts after everyone else leaves, with all the investigations and paperwork. The paramedics admitted they found some flaws that they will be visiting and working on as a team.
SES said they enjoyed the exercise and talked about how they can use CFA members to help them, and how both agencies now know a lot more about motor vehicle accidents.
Drouin West brigade enjoyed it as well and got a lot out of the exercise and can now find equipment on the SES vehicles and understand the terms used. This is useful as in most occasions Drouin West are first on scene.
The brigade was greatly helped by a previous visit from the Warragul SES unit, who had showed the brigade how to best approach a motor vehicle accident as well as information on look outs and airbags, which was appreciated.
All agencies enjoyed the exercise and there are already talks of another exercise being run in the future.