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COTAG Exercise 2008

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The Red Cross drivers, despite limited or no previous off-road experience, handled their 4x4 vehicle with skill and determination. With a COTAG crew member on board to provide advice the Red Cross vehicle coped excellently with the challenges presented to it, pleasantly surprising all involved. A KERR recovery was needed at one particularly soft stretch of ground but this was carried out swiftly and the convoy was soon on its way again.

Multiple agency personnel standing at the exercise crash site Following a few more off-road challenges the Red Cross team were finally able to reach the aircraft casualties. Red Cross personnel tending 'casualties' during COTAG Exercise 'Fallen Eagle' © 2008 Donna McLean. The 'injuries' faced by the medical team were mostly minor although there was a leg wound that required the casualty to remain lying down. There was also a casualty suffering from stress and shock who was very agitated and needed to be kept calm. This required more than one Red Cross medic and so placed realistic pressure on the resources available.

The Red Cross medics decided that the passenger with the leg injury had to be kept lying down and was strapped into an inflatable supportive carrier. Exercise casualty being carried by Red Cross personnel. © 2008 Donna McLean. This posed a new problem because none of the vehicles, including the Red Cross 4x4, was equipped to carry a stretcher. (Remember, RAF Mountain Rescue would normally carry out this task.) A solution was found by emptying all the equipment out of the one long wheelbase Land Rover present and cushioning the floor. The casualty, attended by Red Cross personnel, was made quite comfortable in the centre of the Land Rover's spacious passenger area.

The return journey to the FCP passed almost without incident, other than some careful boulder realignment to allow the Red Cross 4x4 (with less ground clearance than the COTAG vehicles) to climb up out of a burn. The Red Cross drivers were rapidly gaining in both skill and confidence by this point making the return journey comparatively straightforward.

With the casualties now at the FCP and being cared for by the full Red Cross team it was time to wind up the exercise. All present at the FCP gathered together for a short debrief and an opportunity to make initial comments on the exercise; a more detailed debrief and analysis would be carried out at a later date. One or two suggestions were made by the Grampian Police and RAYNET observers, and the exercise as a whole was unanimously considered a success.

COTAG 4x4 Response wishes to express its gratitude to all the agencies and individuals who participated and look forward to working with them again in the future.

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