Emergency plans to recover and identify mass casualties from a disaster scene were tested in Bradford this week.
West Yorkshire Police and West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service joined forces and used a hands on role play exercise to demonstrate the capabilities of the two organisations and to also see if any improvements can be made to existing plans and protocols as well as training staff.
The scenario started at around 8am on Tuesday 17 May when officers and staff who were taking part were called to the scene of a simulated train accident.
The scene was set within the grounds of the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Headquarters in Birkenshaw and was shielded from public view to ensure minimal disruption to residents and passers by.
Deceased casualties were represented by mannequins and volunteers played the roles of the walking wounded and witnesses.
The aim of the exercise was to ensure officers are fully trained to handle all manner of situations in the most professional and sensitive way possible.
Officers from West Yorkshire Police’s Economic Crime Unit, Operations Support Division and the Homicide and Major Enquiry Team were involved.
It is a requirement of both the Police and Fire and Rescue Service to be able to recover and identify bodies from a scene of mass fatality.
Detective Superintendent Colin Prime said: “It is essential that we test our protocols and train officers regularly to ensure we can deal with any situation we are faced with.
“Victim identification is very sensitive and relatives and friends need to know that we have treated their loved ones with the up most decency and respect when they are recovered from a scene.
“Working closely with the Fire Service we have been able to run an exercise which is as realistic as possible, but also with minimal disruption to residents or passers by.”
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager Brian Robson said: “This is a good opportunity for West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service to work together with West Yorkshire Police on the very sensitive matter.
“Sadly, when disasters do happen there are fatalities and it will enable us to train together, ensuring dignity is maintained when recovering bodies. We are glad that we can provide the facilities needed for such an exercise.”