We are a family-run business, operating sightseeing and party cruises along the River Dee for more than thirty years, so we’re well drilled in just what to do in case of emergency. Training every one of our staff in such procedures – and keeping a cool head in a crisis – is an essential part of what we do.
We recently worked with the Emergency Planning team at Cheshire West and Chester Council, the emergency services – police, fire and ambulance to put to the test exactly what to do in case of an emergency. This was our training exercise
We receive our drill scenario in a sealed envelope. It’s 8.20pm: smoke has been seen seeping through the floor panels of the Lady Diana. We are hosting hen parties and our passengers are drinking, dancing and tucking into a good supper.
Smoke begins to fill the party room and the lights go out. Our skipper calmly alerts the emergency services, stating situation and location. He then makes tannoy announcements to reassure passengers and keep everyone calm.
Within minutes, the city’s Fire Service has scrambled fire engines carrying rescue boats and a specialist water rescue team. Excellent communication in an emergency is vital, so we’re also helping to test emergency radio response networks. A mobile phone may not be any use at all in a rural area, especially when lots of passengers are trying to make calls at the same time.
Meanwhile, the council’s Emergency Planning Unit is working fast to make all necessary arrangements to establish a support base in Eccleston Village Hall to take care of boat evacuees. The Fire and Ambulance services arrive and launch boats to come out to the stranded Lady Diana.
Support teams stand by on the riverbank with ambulances at the ready to ferry people to the support centre – or hospital if required. Paramedics check and treat passengers for any injuries, while our crew carry out head counts as people are evacuated onto lifeboats. It is only when every single passenger is accounted for, do the crew and emergency services personnel abandon ship.
The exercise was performed brilliantly by our team, the volunteers became ‘Oscar winning’ actors and ensured the emergency services were put to the test. The feedback from the emergency services team was positive, the crew on ChesterBoat were cool and calm and our passengers can be sure they are in the best of hands with our team.