“One vehicle was on its roof behind the lorry and had a young boy in the passenger seat who was unresponsive. Two vehicles had collided and one male had gone through the windscreen and was now lying on the bonnet,” could you deal with a major car crash if you came across one?
In her latest piece, Special Constable Jodie Hayes describes the challenges and excitement of being involved in a major incident simulation exercise.
“The last few months on the beat have just been a whirlwind of different emotions. Even after nearly 17 weeks as a warranted officer, I still get a huge sense of pride when I put on my uniform.
“We recently took part in a simulated major incident with the fire service and East of England Ambulance. We hadn’t been given much detail about the day as they wanted to make it as real as possible, which naturally made me nervous!
“I met up with four other officers from the force, as well as paramedics, firefighters, role-players and safety officers. As soon as I walked into the briefing room, the actors were covered in blood so I knew it was going to be something serious. The nerves, anticipation and adrenaline kicked in, and within half an hour we were out in the police cars waiting to be dispatched. Myself and my colleague were called on first and rushed to the scene on blue lights and sirens. When we pulled up at the location, we were faced with a heavy goods lorry that had collided with four vehicles. As we approached, we could hear people screaming.
“One vehicle was on its roof behind the lorry and had a young boy in the passenger seat who was unresponsive. Two vehicles had collided and one male had gone through the windscreen and was now lying on the bonnet. Although I knew it was only a simulation, I was terrified about doing the right thing and making sure that I did as much as I could to make sure everybody was safe. We updated control to explain what we saw and urgently requested that ambulance and the fire service were called.
“Once that was done, I approached the young boy who was in the overturned car. He was covered in blood and there was smashed glass everywhere. I began talking to him and tried to gain as much information as I could, whilst still making sure my fellow colleagues were safe. It was quite a surreal experience because I had never been to a major incident before. As ambulance arrived, I was informed by a colleague that there was a moped underneath the lorry without a rider, which instantly made me panic. This meant that there was a victim who was unaccounted for.
“Once the missing victim was found and my fellow officers assisted the fire crews and paramedics, I went over to another vehicle that had collided with the lorry and was now in the middle of a field. I went and spoke to him and managed to get into the back seat of the vehicle through an open window. I sat and supported his head while the paramedics did their checks, which determined that he had a possible spinal injury. As the car had been crushed during the collision, the fire fighters had to smash all of the windows and take the roof off the car, with me inside!
“I learned so much during the simulation, not only from a police point of view, but also from a firefighter and ambulance point of view. It also gave me the confidence to know that if I did attend something like that during a shift, I could deal with it in an informed way.
“The second event I attended was a memorial service for fallen Specials at the National Arboretum. It was something I really wanted to go to, especially given how many police officers have died over the past few years. When you join the police, you also become a member of the police family and it becomes a very important part of your career.
“I drove up to Staffordshire with my sergeant and we had a bit of lunch before the service began. Officers and civilians had come from all parts of the country to show their support and it filled me with a huge sense of pride. Once the service was finished, we marched with a band down to the memorial and each constabulary laid a wreath in respect.
“It was very moving to know that so many officers, like myself, had made the ultimate sacrifice in order to protect the public. Becoming a Special has given me the opportunity to make memories, gain experience and has given so much many life skills I can use not only in my career, but my personal life too.”