Stafford MRT Involvement at Crash of East Midlands Boeing 737

This document was copied from Al Sylvester’s files and converted for uploading to the website by Jim Morrison

Mountain Rescue Team
RAF Stafford
Tel: (0785) 223161 ext 358



On the 8 Jan 89, RAF Stafford MRT were sent by RCCE to assist the emergency
services at the crash site of an East Midlands Airways Boeing 737 on the M-1
motorway at the Eastern approach to East Midlands Airport. On arrival it became
obvious there was no central control point, and the best course of action was to give immediate assistance. To this end the team entered the fuselage and started removing debris and personal belongings to gain access to the live casualties and dead bodies contained within it. There were a number of AA men, soldiers etc in the vicinity who were organised into a chain up the embankment and all the loose debris and parts of airframe were transferred by the team from the aircraft via this chain to a clear space away from the crash.

Inside the cabin people were trapped by broken seats, panelling, and airframe and progress was hampered by the angle of the aircraft and looms of wire stretching the length of the cabin. To enable greater ease of casualty evacuation the firemen were asked to cut away the seats while the team hacksawed and cleared away the wires. Other team members positioned stretchers and equipment on the motorway and belayed the main fuselage to trees with 250 foot ropes to arrest any downwards motion. Several bodies were removed using Bell Mountain stretchers, which proved far more suited to the task than the GS canvass tvpe used up to this point. Until this time the fire crews had been passing people out through the small emergency exits over the wings, but now that good access had been cleared, subsequent casualties were removed through the large hole left by the cockpit shearing off. By this time two live casualties with lower limb injuries had been evacuated by the MRT and work stopped as more cutting was required.

The RAF Leeming MRT arrived and were briefed by TL Stafford. A joint sweep search of the embankment was undertaken, because as with Lockerbie, nobody knew what had been covered. Therefore, it was decided that the whole area must be done again thoroughly.

The search proved negative and the majority of the two teams stood down around 0230. TL’s Stafford and Leeming, OIC Stafford and four team members remained to effect the extraction of the last live casualty from deep within the aircraft.

The casualty, who was suffering from severe spinal injuries, had been folded in half on impact. After a complicated cutting operation by the Fire Service the casualty was pulled out, placed on a stretcher, and transferred to a waiting ambulance. This done the team stood down at 0430.

2- Once again the situation was chaotic and the Police, unaware of our capabilities, did not know where to use the MRT to best advantage. Inevitably

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