A charity is encouraging Cumbrian volunteers to help create staged emergency scenarios where local response units can hone their skills. 

Casualties Union is a national charity that was set up in 1940 by Eric Claxton from the Surrey County Civil Defense Rescue School with the original purpose of training people to bring Second World War bomb victims out of damaged buildings. 

Now, the charity that operates across the UK and Wales creates staged mass casualty events ranging from terrorist attacks to train crashes where emergency services can practice their response skills. 

News and Star: A staged emergency scenario created by Casualties Union CumbriaA staged emergency scenario created by Casualties Union Cumbria (Image: Supplied)Casualties Union's Cumbrian branch is based in Barrow-in-Furness, however, its work stretches all across the county with volunteers from Carlisle, Penrith, and Whitehaven, as well as those from South Cumbria being involved. 

Emma Wright is the secretary at Casualties Union's Barrow-based branch and has been volunteering for the charity for two years. 

After the charity's appeal to Cumbrian volunteers to get involved with their response drills, she explained the satisfaction she gets from helping create an environment where local emergency services can sharpen their skills.

She said: "We get an enormous amount of satisfaction from creating a scenario that is realistic.

"The large-scale exercises are particularly exciting, for example, a terrorist attack involving shrapnel or being cut out of a staged multi-vehicle collision.

News and Star: Emma Wright wearing special effects makeupEmma Wright wearing special effects makeup (Image: Supplied)"I also love working with our local voluntary groups on a small scale, for example portraying an injured fell runner for mountain rescue or working with community first responders on care for a casualty having a seizure.

"I get a huge amount of satisfaction from creating a professional scenario which will hopefully help the participant to hone their skills."

The work done by Casualties Union in Cumbria is also a creative outlet for special effects artists, actors, and actresses and Emma explained how a commitment to realism helps the emergency services practice for a real-world scenario. 

News and Star: An actor being attended to by emergency services in a training exerciseAn actor being attended to by emergency services in a training exercise (Image: Supplied)She said: "I enjoy learning more about creating special effect makeup using professional grade products, but it’s just as much about the acting side of things too, as well as realistic staging.

"If you don't have the realism in the makeup or the acting then it does not create the same adrenaline rush as you get from someone who looks like they are, for example, bleeding.

"We always go all out to make it as realistic as possible."