Cleveland RAYNET Group
Exercise Carpline was organised by Cleveland Police. The scenario was that a bus had crashed through a bridge and fallen onto a passenger train. This had occurred at Teesport, an industrial area.
A police inspector telephoned the Cleveland RAYNET Group Controller and asked for communications to link four locations:-
Voluntary disaster relief organisations take a lot longer to mobilise than the Blue Light services, so they had been called out before the exercise had started from the Emergency Services' point of view.
RAYNET would be required to provide communications, particularly for the voluntary organisations. In addition, having RAYNET comms. available before the event started for the 999 services, meant that setting up the exercise could be done without using police radio channels. The start time and locations involved were kept secret from most Emergency Services personnel.
The Cleveland RAYNET callout system was implemented. Richmond (North Yorkshire) RAYNET Group was also alerted in case extra operators would be needed.
Many RAYNET members couldn't leave work to attend the exercise. One member was not at work, but was in the middle of dismantling his car braking system, so couldn't turn out. Eight group members appeared on the air within twenty minutes of the police callout, so two were allocated to each of the four locations. They collected their equipment together and went to report to the police officer in charge at each location. Two more RAYNET members joined the radio network as the others were driving to their sites, making a total of ten.
The distances involved weren't large and the terrain was flat, so all four RAYNET stations in the exercise had comms. with all others.
Most voluntary organisations were told to attend the Voluntary Aids Centre and to wait there for further instructions.
The incident site had been set up using cranes to place old railway carriages on their sides next to the track, with a bus inserted among them. Actors from the Casualties' Union were made up with nasty looking injuries. They were briefed on the nature of their supposed injuries and scattered amongst the wreckage. Cleveland County Cadet Force also provided casualties and people trapped in the wreckage.
RAYNET handed message pads with carbon paper to their police liaison officers at each location. Carbon copies allow the User Service to keep a copy of each outgoing message.
The blood-soaked casualties sat around chatting normally; their broken bones protruding from their torn clothing. They must get quite used to this sort of thing, as that is what they do. To others, it looked quite stomach-churning.
One RAYNET station was inside a police building. The other three operated from their cars or on foot near their cars.
When RAYNET reported that all of the locations were ready and all volunteers in place, the Deputy Chief Constable at the Incident Site said that he was going to walk the short distance to a public telephone to start the exercise. He would dial 999 as if he was a member of the public reporting a bus and train crash.
As he approached the public telephone box, those at the Incident Site could hear a siren in the distance. As he started to make the telephone call, a fire engine appeared with blue lights flashing and siren wailing. It parked at the Incident Site. Top marks to the Fire Brigade for using telepathy to turn out to a major disaster, but there was an investigation afterwards.
Ignoring the fire engine, the police were first to respond to the 999 call. It can't have been easy for the first constable at the scene to be met with such a sight. There is an urge to get started at helping casualties, but the correct course of action for those first at the scene is to stand back, assess the nature and scale of the situation and report back.
Staff manning the various Emergency Services' Control Rooms had obviously been briefed about the exercise and so didn't telephone the various voluntary organisations.
RAYNET passed messages to deploy the voluntary organisations from the Voluntary Aids Centre. St John Ambulance and the Red Cross worked with the professional County Ambulance Service giving initial first aid at the Incident Site, then at the Casualty Clearing Station. Hospitals sent site medical teams.
In theory, the Women's Royal Voluntary Service provided food and drink for those that needed it, but at this exercise, a Rest Centre hadn't been used. The Salvation Army did establish a mobile canteen and provided refreshments. The Salvation Army also provided a counselling service for those affected by the disaster and helped with the wellbeing of the injured and dying.
Cleveland Search & Rescue Team assisted with first aid and specialist manpower at the Incident Site.
A debrief meeting was held weeks later at Cleveland Police HQ. No event goes perfectly and much thought and discussion was given as to how to improve some aspects. Many voluntary organisations believed that they should have been given more details of the exercise, both before the date and while it was being held. The Chief Constable said that for such exercise, for a variety of reasons, he believed that it was best if only the date was known.
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Page updated on 09 January 2017