National awards for emergency planning have been dedicated to the community involved with the Shoreham airshow tragedy.
The Emergency Planning Society’s 2016 Resilience Awards, held in Cardiff on Monday, saw West Sussex County Council’s resilience and emergencies team win Resilience Team of the Year and the Shoreham Airshow emergency planning team win the Volunteer Sector Award.
Both teams were recognised for their work following the crash at last year’s airshow. They played a crucial role in the aftermath, linking with all emergency service partners, residents and staff.
Council leader Louise Goldsmith said: “We were all tested by the tragedy as we have never been tested before but our team excelled in their response.
“I was completely humbled and inspired by the team’s dedication, selflessness and service to the community.
“This award is very well deserved.”
Matt Hall, who heads the council team, said the support given by the wider community had been ‘incredible’ and ‘showed a real sense of unity at such a difficult time’.
“This award is a reflection of how the entire community rallied together and we would like to dedicate this award to everyone who helped,” he added.
The Volunteer Sector Award recognised the work of the airshow event volunteers and their emergency planning, training and response to the 2015 show.
Ian Taylor, head of safety, security and emergency planning for the airshow, said: “This nomination is, in my view, for all our volunteers from RAFA, other service organisations and others, including Raynet, Reac and Air Cadets.
“There is such a fantastic team of volunteers at Shoreham Airshow. I have worked with them for 20-plus years. We work very closely with the emergency teams at the event.
“The nomination was about the way the team has been built over the years. There are 11 or 12 people who volunteer from different organisations and work together over the two days.
“Some come from Wales and Exeter and it is really good that a team like that from all over the country can respond together so well.”
Ian first became involved as an airshow volunteer and by chance started doing the emergency planning. That led him to training professionally for the role and he is now head of emergency planning for East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust.
He said the volunteers had dealt with a range of incidents to deal with over the years, more often than not nothing to do with planes.
“We have had a burger van fire in the middle of the crowd,” he recalled.
“That was dealt with extremely efficiently and we got a lot of praise from the fire service for that. In fact, it was dealt with before they arrived at the scene.”
For last year’s airshow, controlling the traffic was a large part of the job, since the crash affected one of the main routes out of the site.
Ian said: “In connection with the police, we made the decision to lock the site down. We could only allow people out on the A259 and we made the decision that it would only hamper the police operation to let the 20,000 people out.”
Making the nomination, Tom Crellin said: “Even though there are hundreds of volunteers on site on show days, the atmosphere is one of great friendship and camaraderie and most of the volunteers and staff are on first name terms.
“This team have been central to the running of the Shoreham Airshow throughout its 20-plus year history and, in that time, have been faced with a number of challenges, not least the two fatal air crashes at the airshow (a Hawker Hurricane in 2007 and a Hawker Hunter in 2015).
“In both cases, Ian’s leadership and the team disciplines he instilled were central in ensuring a swift and effective response to the incident and to managing the ongoing welfare of the tens of thousands of show visitors and volunteers who were affected (many deeply affected) by the incident.”
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