A man called Neil is trapped in a collapsed building. Wales’ Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) needs to get the casualty to hospital within the “golden hour”, giving him the best chance of surviving his injuries.
Fortunately, “Neil” is a mannequin and the “collapsed building” is a pile of rubble at the team’s Bridgend headquarters.
On a damp and grey Monday morning at the Brynmenyn industrial estate, white watch, one of Hart’s seven teams has begun a week-long training programme. The elite team train for one week in every seven.
All experienced ambulance staff, they are specially trained to attend hostile or hard-to-access incidents and provide medical treatment to casualties from the moment they arrive, giving patients a greater chance of survival.
Before the service was created in 2012, paramedics had to wait for firefighters to bring victims out to safety before providing medical treatment. Responding to chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear, firearm and terrorist incidents is also part of the team’s brief.
Difficult terrain, sleep deprivation, exhaustion from wearing heavy suits and dehydration caused by some of the breathing kit can make already challenging environments even more difficult.