One of the few uplifting things to follow major tragedies is the volume of praise reserved for members of our emergency services. Those who run towards danger when everyone around them is trying to escape it and those who put their own safety in jeopardy to care for the injured.
While this recognition is unarguably deserved there are some crews whose contribution often goes overlooked.
This year’s RailStaff Awards gave the industry the opportunity to thank a division of the British Transport Police (BTP) that members of the public seldom see but who have one of the most difficult jobs imaginable – a job made that bit harder over the past 12 months.
‘It’s been a very tough year,’ said Byron Chamberlain, a Scenes of Crime Supervisor for BTP, collecting the Rail Team of the Year award on behalf of the BTP’s Disaster Victim Identification (DVI) team.
DVI officers have the unenviable task of identifying human remains from incidents where there has been a significant loss of life. The team is made up of policing staff and officers from around the country who work alongside investigating officers to respectfully recover the remains while preserving any forensic evidence.
In the past 12 months alone, the BTP team has been on the scene of the Croydon tram crash, Manchester Arena bombing and the London Bridge terror attack.
The DVI team are regularly called to incidents that extend beyond the railway environment. BTP still has two DVI teams deployed at Grenfell Tower and, prior to that, they had been dispatched to Ukraine to work on the downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) and to Sousse in Tunisia where 38 tourists were killed by terrorists in 2015 – 30 of which were British.
Although upbeat about their award win, Byron explained how the past 12 months had taken its toll and described the various support mechanisms in place within BTP that help to identify when staff members may be struggling to cope.
Collecting the award alongside other members of the DVI team, Byron said, ‘You don’t know how much this means, seriously. And it means so much not just for BTP but for the London region; for our colleagues from the Met, our colleagues from the city.’
Following the event, BTP’s Chief Constable, Paul Crowther, praised the work of his officers, ‘This is a fantastic achievement for BTP as once again the outstanding professionalism of our people has been rightly recognised by the industry.
‘The DVI team has shown exceptional professionalism in the work they have been involved with at the Croydon tram crash, the Manchester Arena terrorist incident, the London Bridge attacks and the Grenfell Tower fire. They have worked long hours in extremely unpleasant and difficult situations – their dedication has been exceptional.
‘I would like to congratulate the DVI team and the other teams from BTP who were finalists.’
The Rail Team of the Year category was sponsored by Total Rail Solutions (TRS). Total Rail Solutions is one of the UK’s leading providers of fully managed safety critical rail plant services.
TRS chief operating officer Paul Bateman said, ‘Firstly, we’d like to congratulate all of this year’s nominees and winners. We’ve relished the opportunity to celebrate the achievements of our colleagues in the industry, especially those who seldom receive the recognition they deserve.
‘It would be an understatement to describe this year’s Rail Team of the Year as worthy winners. It’s difficult to imagine the scenes they’ve witnessed and the challenges they’ve faced over the past 12 months. Hopefully, this award shows how much we all appreciate the work they do.’
Highly commended: Old Oak Common Open Day Team, Great Western Railway, and MTR Crossrail Travel Safe Team.