Emergency services put to the test at ‘train crash’

Scores of emergency services workers take part in the Exercise Mardle training in Wymondham

Scores of emergency services workers take part in the Exercise Mardle training in Wymondham - Credit: Archant

A van was hit by a three-carriage train with a group of college students on board at a level crossing in Norfolk... but it was all an exercise to test the work of the emergency services.

More than 200 people were involved in the training exercise in Wymondham.

Flashing blue lights swarmed around the railway line for more than five hours as nearly 60 people were rescued from the wreckage.

The event, which was held on a preserved railway line in Becketswell Road, Wymondham, involved Norfolk Constabulary, East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST), Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, HM Armed Forces, Norfolk County Council (NCC), NCC Children's Services, South Norfolk Council and Peterborough Medical Emergency Response Incident Team (MERIT).

Jackie King, resilience manager at the EEAST, spent a year planning the exercise.

'We hold it every three years as part of our compliance with the Civil Contingencies Act. We always have a different scenario,' she said.

'We did not take anyone off duty. Everyone volunteered to come in on their rest days and we did not take any vehicles off the roads.

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'Everyone has worked so well together and I am very grateful to Michelle Custance for her help with the planning.'

Professional trauma make-up artists from Yorkshire created wounds ranging from cuts and bruises to amputated limbs, search and rescue teams were brought in to find four students who had gone missing in surrounding fields and the Hazardous Area Response Team from Melbourn in Hertfordshire was drafted in.

Students on the uniformed services course at Lowestoft College acted as casualties, and amputees took part to help make the exercise as realistic as possible.

Neil Storey, director of operations for the EEAST, described the training exercise as 'fantastic'.

'I watched it from the 999 call coming in, where the call handler did an excellent job, to the dispatch to the initial rescue.

'As an ambulance service, we have dealt with a number of major incidents in the past few years and we are confident that our plans are robust.'