‘Horror pile-up’ staged to sharpen disaster handlings skills

2012-08-03 00:00

A PETROL tanker that had pushed up against a taxi laden with passengers and a car with a damaged rear and two trapped passengers in the front seat at the intersection of Durban and Blackburrow roads in Pietermaritzburg described the scene of another horrific accident in the city on Wednesday night.

A car had apparently run a red robot, crashing into a taxi and sending it careering into a petrol tanker loaded with 40 000 litres of fuel.

Several teams of police officers, the traffic department, the Msunduzi fire department, private and public ambulance services, towing services and clean-up crews had gathered at the scene and were co-ordinating their efforts “to save those injured in the accident”.

The flashing blue lights and sirens at the scene drew a number of concerned onlookers, with new arrivals asking if any people had survived.

A traffic officer who arrived late was complaining of road deaths.

“First the people were being decimated by Aids, now it is road accidents.”

However, the concerned onlookers were soon relieved when they learned that the “accident” had in fact been staged.

The police and other emergency services were on a practice drill, sharpening their skills in handling real disasters on the roads.

Gregory Padayachee, chairperson of the incident management system in the Midlands area, said dry runs were necessary to keep the emergency services prepared.

“We do these twice a year. There is one during the day and there is another at night.”

He said that ideally the first people at the scene were the forward control police (FCP) who take control of the accident scene.

“The leader of the FCP will then elect a team leader who will liaise with all the leaders of the emergency services at the scene.”

Padayachee said the lessons in teamwork and co-ordination learnt through the practice session often proved important in a real accident scenes.

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