The crowd surged up the stairs toward the sound of an electronic siren and cries for help. In the parking lot, people were met by a shocking sight: bodies strewn, rescue crews on the move and plenty of blood and guts. Paramedics dragged shattered bodies amid engine sounds, helicopter parts and smoke. The air stank of burnt wire.
After a dramatic few moments, a clean-cut man in a golf shirt stepped into the middle of the chaos, raised his hands and called, “Cut!”
This spring, The Banff Centre hosted Disaster Forum 2013, an annual conference for people working in disaster mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery. These are people from the public and private sectors who plan and train for every kind of disaster. Their tag line is “Plan to Communicate,” and that means knowing how to react when disaster strikes. One of their afternoon sessions was designed to elicit a real response by simulating, as realistically as possible, a helicopter crash.
The emergency workers were actors, the shattered bodies a mix of actors and dummies. Much of the crash scene was brought in from Calgary, and even the stench in the air came from a “smell machine”.
At the end of their performance, participants were treated to a sound you never hear at a real disaster scene: applause.
This three-minute audio clip from the crash site features the Calgary-based special effects team of Jennifer Bain and Stacy Wegner. They’ve been hired out for disaster simulations for several years, and Wegner has created special effects for a wide range of projects, including Calgary’s production of Evil Dead: The Musical. Jennifer even calls herself the Queen of Gore.
Produced by Sarah Feldbloom and Jennifer Kingsley. Mixed and mastered with Pouya Hamidi.