VolkerRail, Tata Steel and Humberside Fire and Rescue have successfully carried out a live simulated rail incident, on Tata Steel infrastructure in Scunthorpe, to demonstrate and test collective emergency preparedness.
The aim of the exercise, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, was to ensure each companies emergency response plans were effective and robust and to test establish procedures. All participants in the exercise had received classroom based training in emergency response however, to ensure the simulation was a real as possible; no prior knowledge was given and the simulation was acted out as a real event, which included the attendance of emergency services.
The rail incident was based around simulated track renewals with an engineering possession adjacent to an open line, which had a line speed of 110mph, the involvement of lifting operations using a Road Rail Vehicle (RRV) and lifting and lining of the track by an On Track Machine (OTM).
The emergency scenario was intentionally chosen to reinforce the rail industry’s most recent safety initiatives. The scene, which participants were presented with, was staged to show a catastrophic failure of lifting equipment, which had resulted in a load falling onto a machine controller, trapping him; which in real life could cause life threatening crushing injuries. The slewed jib of the RRV was also positioned to look like it had collided with the front cab of the OTM, causing a suspected fatality to one operator and serious injury to another.
For added realism it had been pre-arranged by Humberside Fire and Rescue for an actual 999 call to be made and responded to in real time. Around thirty people were involved in the scenario and everyone agreed that it was a resounding success with significant lessons learnt.
Commenting on the exercise John Armson, a representative from Humberside Fire and Rescue, said: “The benefits of exercises such as these cannot be understated. Without doubt the exercise was a real success and valuable lessons were learnt, which allows personnel and procedures to evolve and provide skills which can then be applied at incidents they may be confronted with. All who attended demonstrated both high degrees of professionalism and enthusiasm. Our sincere thanks go to all involved.”
Stuart Webster-Spriggs, HSQE director at VolkerRail, commented: “As a company we are committed to continuously improving the safety of all staff and providing a safe, responsible, efficient and healthy working environment to all. This exercise was planned to ensure we do not become complacent and our emergency response procedures are as robust as possible.”