An explosion of glass showered its debris. A fire crew cut noisily through the frame of the car as they prepared to remove the roof and lift me out on a spinal board.

This was, thankfully, a demonstration rather than a genuine rescue. But Green Watch have done this for real more times than they care to remember.

Showing the brutality of road accidents was one aspect of a road safety awareness event at Carlisle East Fire and Rescue Station on Wednesday night.

Seeing people cut out of a car will hopefully bring home to drivers what has happened countless times on Cumbria's roads.

Plenty about this 'rescue' was not authentic. Most of the hazards faced by fire crews and casualties had been eliminated.

Myself and my fellow volunteer - 17-year-old student Oliwia Zagrodna - were protected by overalls, helmets, safety glasses and gloves.

The Peugeot 206 delivered here from a scrapyard had its petrol and oil removed, electrics and airbags deactivated. The surroundings were also safer. No traffic passing perilously close. We were in a car park rather than wedged under a bridge or in a ditch. There were no unexpected obstacles, such as the engine rammed into the dashboard.

But still... the sound of sawing and smashing, the shattering of glass: this is a grim environment, best avoided.

The rescue was swift and efficient. Two crew members had climbed into the car through the boot. They held our heads in case of spinal injury. They talked us through each stage of the process. They held a plastic sheet to shield us from flying glass.

After a few minutes the car had become a convertible. Oliwia was lifted out on a board, then me.

As I was lowered to the ground the crowd attending the event broke into applause.

Oliwia, a pupil at Richard Rose Central Academy, is learning to drive. She may be even more careful on the roads now.

"It was a good experience to see what the fire service does," she said. "It makes you realise how safe you have to be when driving. I was shaking a little bit when the glass smashed. You're trusting them to keep you ok. They're looking after you. They're very supportive."

Supportive physically, and with reassuring words. Watch manager Stuart Adams has been in Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service for 29 years. How many crashes has he attended?

"It will be in the hundreds. We've had all sorts of incidents. Multiple casualties. They're not all fatals. Some people have walked away from wreckage and you wonder how.

"A lot of the time we're relying on guidance from paramedics. We need to think about if casualties have got spinal injuries, in which case we want to take as much time as we need. Cutting the roof off is the best way of removing the casualty on a spinal board.

"But if the person is going downhill rapidly we get them out as fast as we can. That might involve popping a door off.

"Every job's different. Sometimes you think 'How on earth am I going to get them out of this?' They could be trapped or impaled. Any movement is going to impact on them. But what's why we're here. That's what we train for."

This demonstration lacked the blood and moans of real casualties - "lives hanging on a line" as Stuart put it.

The aftermath can live with rescuers as well as casualties, despite support from the fire service.

"We've had people go out of the job with post-traumatic stress disorder. Some people go to an incident and the casualty can remind them of someone. Or later on they're driving past the scene and they're reminded of the incident."

There was a strong police presence at the event. Cumbria Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: "We have had a problem particularly with young drivers on our rural roads. There are too many deaths."

One of these was 18-year-old Jordan McClure. Jordan died last year at the wheel of his Mini Cooper after crashing into a bridge near Carlisle. His family has allowed Cumbria Police to use the wreckage as a lesson about the dangers of driving too fast and making unsafe modifications.

Jordan's car was at the fire station, with a hushed audience around it.

"The idea is to avoid more stories like Jordan's," said Peter. "We all know public safety messages are not the most exciting things. This is a way of drawing attention to what can happen when it all goes horribly wrong."

Scout leader Matthew Dixon was here with 1st Scotby Scouts. He knows that some young people start driving at 17 or 18, often in a car full of friends. If something goes wrong there can be multiple casualties.

"Some of them here are 13, soon to be 14. We're just trying to pre-warn them a little bit. I know families where someone has been involved in an accident and died. The grief that comes out of that is lifelong. It ruins lives. We're just trying to make them think about their speed and their driving in general."

One of the Scouts felt queasy at the sight of Jordan's car and sat pale on the pavement. Another, 13-year-old Josh Blain, said of the wreckage: "It's quite bad. I've seen a few pictures of it but I wasn't expecting it to be like this. I hope I would be a careful driver. I would hate to have that happen and have my family remember me like that."

The fireman who held my head during the mock rescue is Michael Tallentire. Michael has lost count of how many crash scenes he has attended during 15 years in the service.

"You can go weeks without one and then have two or three in a day. I'd be quite happy to never see another car crash. You're always apprehensive on the way there. You don't know if there's families in there or kids. How bad are their injuries? It's somebody's son, dad, mother, brother, sister."