A realistic emergency to train fire and rescue crews took place in North Swindon on Swindon’s steam railway line, close to Southwold Close, Oakhurst on Wednesday 14 December.
A driver from the Swindon & Cricklade Railway Trust brought a diesel engine down the line from the trust’s Blunsdon Station base to simulate a ‘crash’ into two cars stranded on a farm crossing, trapping five people, two in one vehicle, three in the other.
Two Wiltshire Fire & Rescue teams and their appliances were called to the major incident, as well as the hazardous area response team (HART), based in Bristol.
The fire crews had to use specialised cutting equipment to extricate the victims from the vehicles.
The railway society used the exercise as an opportunity to train its own volunteers in what to do in an emergency where evacuation of the injured passengers is required.
Alan Harper, group manager at Swindon fire station, said the practical application of training in the field was essential for personnel. “It gives us a chance to put what we have learned into a real situation. The scenario here of vehicles on a farm crossing across a rail track is absolutely realistic. It is good for us to practice the situation and push us to the limit, but we do not want to see it happen.”
Dave Peacey, vice-chairman of the Swindon and Cricklade Railway Trust, used the opportunity to appeal to people not to trespass on the railway line. “Safety is paramount on the railway. This exercise was a very good opportunity to test our safety plan.
"With the line being so close to housing, we have made constant appeals for people not to cross it to walk their dogs. I know some people don’t want to hear this message but we cannot stress too much how dangerous the railway line is.”
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