FIREFIGHTERS from across the Royal County were called to Dinton Pastures earlier this month after a plane crashed in the lake.
But this wasn’t any ordinary event: it was a special training exercise designed to help the teams practice essential rescue techniques, especially around water.
Taking place on Thursday, January 17, members of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS) teamed up with South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) for Operation Splash in the Hurst country park.
The teams used specialist vehicles including a rescue boat for the exercise, which simulated the aftermath of a mid-air collision between a Piper Cherokee aircraft and a microlight.
And to ensure that the event was as realistic as possible, volunteers from the Casualties Union charity took on the roles of injured pilots and passengers, to make the scenario as realistic as possible.
During the event, firefighters from Wokingham, Slough, Crowthorne, Caversham Road, Wargrave, Dee Road and Mortimer and paramedics tended to several ‘casualties’ dispersed across an island and on the shore, having ‘collided’ in mid-air, above the lake.
The RBFRS said that they picked this scenario to test firefighter and paramedic rescue techniques in a difficult water rescue setting. This also acted as a chance to build on partnership working between the services, and practice vital emergency care skills.
Group manager Paul Jones, of Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service, oversaw the exercise and was delighted with how it went
In a statement, he said: “This clearly demonstrates that the fire service is not simply about fighting fires. In addition to our primary role, we regularly attend a wide range of challenging incidents, such as the one role-played here.
“This scenario meant one crew had to transfer themselves to the island using the rescue boat, taking all their skills and cutting gear with them, while another crew worked on the second aircraft on the shore, with casualties in both locations.
“Testing and exercising our skills to the maximum is essential to ensure we are always fully prepared to protect the public from any situation, no matter how rare, and I would like to thank everyone who took part in helping us.”