Friday 23rd February 2007
I Received a Text message from National Office advising me that there had been a train crash near Kendal in the Lake District. As this was in our Region I had a brief discussion with John Wilkinson who lives in that area and we decided to put in an offer of assistance. John had the numbers for the Cumbria Police so he made the call to offer assistance and at the same time I rang Willie McMartin to advise him that we were making the offer. During my call to Willie the police accepted our offer. Because of the proximity to the Scottish border it was decided to mobilise two teams (one from Scotland and one from Northern.)
Mobilisation time 21.31.
Details we had at the time were as follows:
Mainline train London to Glasgow express derailed in a remote area a few miles from Kendal. All nine carriages had left the rails and there were reports of large numbers of injuries and persons trapped. Five members of Northern Region were initially mobilised (they were already together at what was planned to be a Northern Region Training):
• Ray Gray
• John Wilkinson
• Sheena McCabe
• Dean Mills
• Also with them was Sally Smith as a driver.
Two more members who were also on route to the Training session with the equipment were also mobilised:
• Ian Wains
• Tony Thompson
A further five members were mobilised on route:
• Tony Dawson
• Louise Higgins
• Ann Brindle
• Allison Ingleby
• Gordon Edgar
Also advised on route that 6 personnel had set off from Scotland in the ambulance and three others were 30 minutes behind them in a car. This gave us a total team of 18 personnel.
The initial rendezvous point was Kendal Police Station.
The first four team members including myself arrived just after 22.30.
We were advised to go to a small village called Grayrigg, which was effectively the crash site.
Our instructions were to head towards a place called Docker on the A685 and proceed through the road block to the crash site. This information was relayed to the rest of the team who were still travelling.
We proceeded through the road block and were advised to park up at the back of a long line of emergency service vehicles. Access to the crash site was via a farm track leading to a farmyard where the casualty triage point had been set up. This was around about three quarters of a mile from where the vehicle was parked. The track was very muddy, very small and it was raining. As we got near to the crash site we were requested to assist with casualty evacuation. We liaised with the crew from two RAF Sea King helicopters and took two stretcher cases (one priority one and one priority two) to one helicopter and six walking wounded (mainly broken arms ribs and collar bones) to the second helicopter all of which were going to Carlisle hospital.
Once the helicopters had departed we continued to the scene of the crash and made contact with the officer in Charge (Chief Superintendent Spinner). I gave CS Spinner a briefing of the number of personnel we had, our capabilities and the equipment we had with us.
Silver Command meeting at 2400hrs 24th February
• The crash had happened at 20.10.
• 118 people have been removed from the wreckage most of them on foot.
• The carriages are relatively intact and fire service and ambulance crews have managed to walk through them.
• Four priority one, one priority two and five priority three casualties had been air lifted to hospital along with 65 walking wounded who had been transported to hospital. Other passengers had dispersed to the village hall.
• The fire service were confident that the inside of the train was clear but need to search underneath the carriages; police teams had carried out a track side search 100 yards along both sides of the track both in front of and behind the crash site.
• Next Silver control meeting 1am.
This information was passed on to the team present.
Our equipment had now arrived along with Ian and Tony and the Scottish Ambulance was about 30 minutes away. A few minutes later Tony Dawson and Louise Higgins also joined the team on site.
I introduced myself to the USAR team leader Tom Cookson and advised him that we were on site and that our equipment was available if required. He gave me an update of what they had been doing and advised that he could use a technical search team once the inside of the carriages had been cleared. The weather was still pretty bad so we decided to set up the base camp tent and cooker about 200 yards from the train for both shelter and hot drinks. Access both to and from the site was now becoming difficult so it was decided to hold the remainder of our team at Kendal Police Station. Ann, Alison and Gordon along with three members from the Scottish Region (Jimmy, Derek and John) stopped at Kendal. Willie arrived on site and advised that the ambulance was about a mile away trying to get up the path.
01.00 Silver control meeting
The fire service were now sure that the inside of the carriages were clear but they wanted to run three fire service search dogs through each of the carriages as a final check to confirm that they were clear. This would take about 30 minutes. Also intended to carry out a final visual search of the carriages and surrounding area.
Next Silver control meeting 02.00.
The USAR team leader asked for two members of IRC to join the team searching the carriages Willie and John were deployed and began the search at 01.20. Willie’s report is below.
The base camp tent was now up, hot drinks were available, and the ambulance had arrived on site. As it was still difficult to get access to the site and, as our request for assistance was for a technical search team, it was decided to stand down Ann, Gordon, Alison, Jimmy, Derek, and John. We were however joined by the last three who had already set off on foot to join the team.
02.00 Silver control meeting
The dogs were still searching the train as was the technical search team and it was decided to put the meeting back to 02.30.
02.45 Silver control meeting
The dogs had now cleared the carriages and the fire service was happy that no one was left inside. The technical team were still searching the outside and once this was complete and if nothing was found it was their intention to close and secure the crash site until daylight. Mountain rescue teams were now stood down.
The technical search finished at 02.55 with nothing found. Willie & John returned to our base camp. Team was stood down at 03.10.
We continued supplying our colleagues from USAR with hot drinks then wrapped up the tent and left the site at 03.35 (this took some time due to the difficulty in moving on the farm track). We agreed to meet at Tebay services on the M6 for a debrief and some breakfast.
The team finally disbursed at 04.35.
My thanks go to the team (including the three that unfortunately did not make it on to the site as they were stood down), Kevin for some sterling support work and Sally who thought she was taking me to a training session.
To feature any part of our stories in your own publications, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call +44 (0) 1324 665 011