Thursday, 1 February 2018

A Bit Of A Disaster

Here is Bournemouth Airport, just a few miles from our home. I have never seen it from the air. Until Tuesday I had never been inside- but we drive past the place frequently en route to Christchurch and Bournemouth.
Our friend Charles is the Airport Chaplain, and he said they needed a Disaster Practice - was there anyone from our church willing to go and spend an evening practicing being a Crash Survivor?
Six of us went - Bob, myself and a family of four. We were told to arrive for 5.45 and someone in a HiViz jacket would direct us to parking etc.
Bob and I got there at 5.35, and couldn't find anyone, HiViz or otherwise. Then we encountered a group of 4 Rd Cross ladies, in Hi Viz jackets- but they had no idea where we supposed to go either. Eventually someone came along, told Bob where to park, and we were all instructed to walk round to the Checkpoint.
Here they looked at our passports and we did the full Airplane Security Check In thing, removing belts and boots, opening bags etc.
Then we went on a little shuttle bus to sit in the hangar where they keep the fire and rescue vehicles. It was very cold. There were about 60 volunteers.
A member of staff [in the obligatory HiViz] thanked us all for coming, and explained what would happen.  First of all, we were instructed to get our food [bag containing sandwich, crisps, choc bar, piece of fruit, bottle of water] and directed to flasks if we wanted tea or coffee.
We were told the scenario - a plane carrying Bournemouth Football Team [off to play against Man Utd] had collided with another on the runway [returning from somewhere abroad] We were the holidaymakers who'd been got off the plane, and were being taken to be 'processed'. You can act out as much as you want, the chap said, if you speak another language, feel free to do that - if you want to have an illness...some people really get into character.
Despite our encouragement to do so, Nadia and family chose not to speak Afrikaans. 
Onto another bus and off to the arrivals area. Here we were checked off on a list and given a form to fill in, and given a yellow wristband. Nadia was asked to play the part of a lady with dementia!
The form was really hard to fill in, none of us was sure what we were supposed to tick. The NOK section was confusing [NOK is next of kin. We did manage to work that out] I decided my brother could be my NOK. If something dire happened to Bob and myself, I would rather he knew first and broke it to the girls gently. Plus I don't know Steph's current address by heart, I always send post to her at work. 
I was glad of my woolly hat, it was cold. They collected our forms and we sat about, waiting. And waiting. And waiting. I felt tired. I wandered off to the other end of the baggage hall, lay down on the luggage carousel [they were all switched off and furnished with foam pads for seating] and dozed off.
I woke to hear the tannoy "Bing Bong! will Angela Almond go to the reception desk please. If Angela Almond is in the Baggage Hall, can she go to the Reception Desk, please?" I ignired this, and lay motionless on the carousel. A Hi Viz lady came over and asked  Are you OK? I told her [honestly] that I was cold and tired and had lay down for a rest. Are you alone? No, I said, my husband is around somewhere. What's his name? Bob Almond. I said, clearly. What's he like. Tall. What colour hair? . He wears glasses. He  smiles a lot. She looked at me in a concerned way. I will get a medic to check you over, and we will try and find Bob for you Thankyou, dear, what's your name? I asked. At that point she told me her name and asked mine. I am Angela Almond. I said. But clearly this name meant nothing to her - even though it was the only name which had been called out over the tannoy.
Finally Bob turned up and they decided we could go home. Then they realised nobody could go home yet, because they had taken in everybody's forms and we were all supposed to have held on to them. We had to fill in something else, and be issued with a green 'exit wristband'
At last we were taken to the door, walked back to the carpark and drove home, getting in soon after 9.
It was an interesting experience. But I felt it was not particularly well managed. There were a number of 'observers' making notes on clipboards and muttering to one another.
I am sure the practice will help them to be better prepared if the real thing ever happens at Bournemouth Airport [but I sincerely hope it never does]
Liz said if there was a disaster, she was not at all surprised I was there! So much for doing our bit to help the local community!!

1 comment:

  1. Well done for volunteering for something that ended up being a bit tedious by the sound of it. I guess it could have been livened up if someone had turned on the carousel!!


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