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Bristow Engineers First on Scene to Fight Fire after Civilian Crash

September 13, 2017

Bristow Caernarfon search and rescue (SAR) engineers Andrew Barnwell and Scott Henderson are being lauded for their bravery and quick-thinking for immediately assisting with emergency services following a civilian aircraft accident at Caernarfon Airport on September 6, 2017.

Barnwell and Henderson were completing scheduled maintenance on a spare SAR aircraft in the Bristow hangar when they heard two loud explosions that shook the hangar doors. When they looked outside, they saw a huge fireball on the runway where a civilian aircraft had crashed and caught fire.

Henderson calmly alerted emergency services while Barnwell prepared the Bristow fire vehicle. They put on protective clothing and drove to the site, arriving first on the scene four minutes after the explosion.

Upon arrival of the site, the pair began fighting the fire to extinguish the burning fuselage and aviation fuel in the hope of assisting any survivors. The heat was considerable. With support from the airfield fire vehicle which arrived shortly after Bristow, the main fire was extinguished before the arrival of the civilian emergency services. Sadly, no survivors were found.

"Scott and Andrew showed considerable presence of mind with their initial actions and demonstrated selfless courage in racing to the scene of the fire in order to assist any potential survivors," said Bristow Caernarfon Chief Pilot Dave Kenyon. "They applied their training calmly, and effectively fought the fire. As the first responders on scene, they undoubtedly helped contain any further spread of the fire."

Once relieved by the civilian emergency services, Barnwell and Henderson returned to the Bristow hangar and contacted the aircrew of Rescue 936, who were inbound from a SAR tasking to the incident. They guided Rescue 936 safely back to the Bristow hangar.

"Despite the incident they had just witnessed first-hand and at close quarters, they remained calm and professional, taking all necessary precautions to facilitate a direct dispersal to SAR dispersal, closing the hangar doors to prevent damage to the spare aircraft from the downwash and marshalling the aircraft to a safe position for landing," said Kenyon. "Once on the ground, and without hesitation, they went about servicing the duty SAR aircraft to ensure the continuity of SAR cover."

"I commend Andrew and Scott for both their calm manner and courageous actions in dealing with the civilian aircraft crash, and the subsequent presence of mind and dedication to the support of the UK SAR mission," said Kenyon.

"I couldn't be more proud of Andy's and Scott's actions," said Bristow President and CEO Jonathan Baliff. "They represented excellence and courage both personally and to Bristow, reflecting a real commitment to our core values, especially safety and teamwork."