Crowds gathered with cameras, leaning in to catch a glimpse of the poor bloke being pulled from a mangled car wreckage by firefighters and paramedics.
That poor bloke was me – I volunteered to take part in a rescue demonstration as part of Dunstable Fire Station’s Open Day on Sunday (September 8).
I was invited along by Beds Fire Service, and I said ‘yes’ despite not knowing what I was letting myself in for.
The theme for the event was ‘road safety’, and the rescue demonstration was part of a programme of activities that included a specialised crash simulator and reaction-testing exercises.
As for my part, I thought it would be simple – let the emergency services do their thing while sitting still and pretending to be injured.
However, once I had a strap wrapped around my neck and a dust mask fitted, I knew I was in for an intense experience.
A paramedic sat behind me holding my skull still – his hands served as blinkers and I was told to look forward at all times. The only thing in my narrow line of vision was a crushed windscreen being pelted with rain.
My breathing and heartbeat were checked regularly – I have no doubt both increased during the 20 minutes I spent in that car.
Bit by bit, firefighters cut the car around me into pieces using hulking machinery operating inches from my face.
Screeches of contorting metal and reverberating thuds from what I can only assume was a sledgehammer are far more terrifying when you can’t see where they’re coming from.
Firefighters took off three car doors, and ripped off the roof from right over my head.
Now exposed to the wind and rain and surrounded by the carcass of shattered glass and twisted metal that made up the car I sat in, I could see the open-mouthed members of the audience intently anticipating the crews’ next move.
Paramedics then pushed a board between my back and the car seat before hoisting me up and securing me to a stretcher.
It took about a dozen skilled and highly-trained professionals to remove this 80kg lump of dead weight out of the car, but they made it appear effortless.
Not normally the claustrophobic sort, I found the whole tightly-packed experience quite harrowing.
I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel to have to go through that for real, while dealing with shock and a possible broken neck.
Beds Fire, the East of England Ambulance Service, Beds Police and Dunstable Fire Station all do an incredible job.
Drive safely out there.
To watch the video of my rescue, visit www.dunstabletoday.co.uk.