Road Traffic Accident in Bosanski Petrovac
Capt. Christine Bazarin
First published April 28, 2003
Two SFOR vehicles lie smashed on either side of a quiet
country road following a head-on collision that leaves six
British soldiers injured. With no help in sight, one shaken
soldier places a call to the Operations Cell of the United
Kingdom Battle Group (UK BG), while others lie covered with
blood amongst the wreckage. All they can do now is wait for
the blue lights.
Mrkonjic Grad - Fortunately this scenario was only part of
a Blue Light Exercise that was conducted outside of Mrkonjic
Grad on Apr. 17 involving members of the UK BG's Quick Reaction
Force (QRF), blue light ambulance teams, and an airborne Immediate
Response Team (IRT) from Headquarters Multinational Brigade
An opportunity to train together
Brigade-organised exercises such as this are held at least
twice over a six-month period for every new BG. They provide
emergency response elements an opportunity to train together
to ensure a mutual understanding of each other's requirements,
capabilities and roles.
"The main intent of this mass casualty exercise is to
assess the immediate reaction of the Battle Group in providing
first aid and on-scene command and control, in conjunction
with the Brigade's Immediate Response Team," said Maj.
(UK) Stephen Lawrence, the HQ MNB-NW Staff Officer for Medical
Once members of the QRF secured the scene, medics prioritised
the casualties and attended to injuries that ranged from a
fractured leg, facial lacerations, and chest injuries to an
unconscious casualty with multiple injuries.
One of the firsts to arrive on scene was Lance Cpl. Sarah
Neon from Aldershot, Kent who, in her two short years with
the Royal Military Police, had never dealt with a mass casualty
"When we turned up to the accident and saw there were
six casualties I thought oh my goodness, what do I do?"
said Neenan. "I just did what I was trained to do - check
how many casualties there were, report back to my commander
and deal with the casualties as they come until the medics
arrive. Doing what you can for them, and trying to make them
feel at ease is the most important thing, is what I've been
Before long the IRT arrived in a Dutch Cougar helicopter to
provide further medical care to the casualties and to evacuate
the more seriously injured to a Role 3 Multinational Integrated
Medical Unit (R3MIMU) hospital in Sipovo. This didn't actually
occur though, as the exercise was called to an end at this
Sucked in when seeing casualties
In the debrief that followed, Lawrence praised all participants
for their efforts, but also emphasised the need for improved
command and control of the scene, and communication procedures
between air and ground teams.
"The general response from the BG was extremely quick
and they took initial command of the situation, but people
always tend to get sucked in when they see casualties - and
always at the expense of the overall command and control.
The operation tends to slow down if you don't have someone
standing back and directing exactly what goes on," said
Lawrence. "The initial response was very good, and I
hope they can refine the things they need to improve for the
next test exercise."
Nations of SFOR: Canada
Training and Exercises