Monday, 25 March 2019

Firefighters ‘save’ air crash victims in training exercise

FIREFIGHTERS from Wargrave took part in a training exercise involving a mock aircraft crash.

The crew was one of seven to take part in the exercise, known as Operation Splash, at Black Swan Lake in Dinton Pastures in Hurst.

It was a simulation of a mid-air crash between a Piper Cherokee and a microlight aircraft designed to test emergency responses and allow the crews to practise a water rescue. Volunteers from the Casualties Union charity played the role of injured pilots and passengers as firefighters raced to help them on an island in the lake and on the shore.

The other crews came from the Wokingham, Slough, Crowthorne, Caversham Road, Mortimer and Dee Road fire stations. South Central Ambulance Service also participated. Wargrave fire station is currently threatened with closure over the availability of its crew.

In November, the Royal Berkshire Fire Authority agreed to give the station in Victoria Road until August during which time crew availability must reach 60 per cent.

The retained station was spared closure in 2017 pending a 12-month trial, which ended in October. The station, which is the oldest in Berkshire, was told it must increase the availability of its crew from around six per cent to 60 per cent or be closed.

In recent years, the availability has been as little as 2.4 per cent.

Since the trial began it has managed to reach 38 per cent availability and supporters say they hope the target could be reached this year.

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