A tram driver had a heart attack before ploughing into a crowd of people, trapping two and leaving the vehicle’s conductor with a broken collarbone.
Thankfully, the grim details are simply part of an exercise carried out on the tramway outside the Sandcastle Waterpark this morning.
Firefighters from Blackpool, South Shore and Bispham all took part, answering a ‘999 call’ that involved a few sketchy details, including the words ‘tram’, ‘crowd’, and ‘casualties’.
Aspiring fire officer Johnny Nottingham acted as the commanding officer, instructing crews to lift the Bombardier tram using an airbag and two 5o-tonne jacks.
Within minutes all those hurt were free and handed over to paramedics, leaving watching bosses satisfied the exercise had gone well.
White Watch manager Steve Boyne from South Shore fire station said: “Blackpool Transport has a really good safety record, especially with these new trams.
“They’ve improved the line, they’ve improved the track system, they’ve improved the tram network. Everything in terms of safety is way better.
“The old trams sit a lot higher on the wheels, which creates a bigger space underneath them and we had a lot more accidents.
“We have had a handful since these new trams have been on the run.
“But we have to train. We have to have crews on the Fylde coast competent to solve any problem involving these trams.”
The exercise got underway shortly after 10am in warm sunny weather, at the tramway loop opposite the Pleasure Beach.
Firefighters used a special key to open the tram from the outside before getting everybody off. They dismantled the front of the tram, which began ferrying passengers in 2012, before fitting the airbag.
That was enough to free the first dummy, pinned by his arm and chest, though the 40-tonne tram had to be lifted using hydraulic jacks to free the second dummy, who was also stuck under a ‘cow-catcher’ fitted to the tram to keep people from falling under the wheels.
After giving the pair vital first aid and handing them over to waiting paramedics – though neither the ambulance service or police took part in the exercise – they were left with the task of lowering the tram back onto the track, which they did with ease and within a matter of seconds.
Steve added: “The driver had a cardiac arrest, we had two people trapped under the tram, and we had a couple of passengers suffering minor injuries as well. The end result was clearly to save saveable life, improve anybody that is injured and get them into a better state and to get them to a primary care facility as soon as possible.”