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Jun 27, 2002

Fire service simulates disaster

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Fatal traffic accidents have reached epidemic proportions in Belize, but that still doesn’t explain why for the crash that took place today in Belize City News 5′s Jacqueline Woods had plenty of warning. I’ll let her explain.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

This afternoon, two wrecked vehicles, four casualties and a fire brought a crowd of spectators to the corner of Euphrates and King Streets.

The story is that two cars travelling in opposite directions collided. As one of the vehicles rolled and crashed into the wall, an electrical short occurred that started a fire. As black smoke billowed into the air, it attracted people from far and wide.

The scene was dramatic as personnel from the Belize Emergency Response Team, the police, traffic and the National Fire and Rescue Service worked feverishly to help the injured and control the crowd.

However, it soon became apparent that what some people first thought had been a tragic accident was a scene staged by the National Fire and Rescue Service. Operations Officer Ted Smith says traffic accidents have become one of the leading causes of death in the country and it has prompted them to become better prepared.

Ted Smith, Operations Officer, Nat’l Fire/Rescue Service

“If you recognised most recently there are a lot of traffic accidents that have occurred in the country of Belize. And some of them involve fatalities, and we involve as the only agent in the country that’s really equipped with these kind of rescue equipment is the National Fire Service, and we are involved in extricating these casualties out of these vehicles. We have to continue to train our people so that they can perform this task in a more efficient manner. As a result, this exercise becomes necessary to continue to sharpen their skills.”

Although the teams did their best, Smith admits there is room for improvement for all those involved.

Ted Smith

“We had difficulty in getting through to 911. As you are well aware, I even try to get your phone to see if ours was not working. And to 90, for some reason they were just busy while we were trying to get through with the cell phone. Eventually we had to get through to the fire service, I think the chief eventually get through with the department number and not the emergency number.

Some of the difficulties we see involve is with the crowd that came down, the different vehicle coming up the one-way and the fire truck having to come through the same area.”

Smiths says although it appeared as if their team took a long time to rescue the casualties, he says they had to be careful that in their haste to get the injured from the wrecks they would not make matters worse. Jacqueline Woods reporting for News 5.

Once each month the National Fire and Rescue Service holds a simulation exercise.

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