Sheep's blood, offal, and mannequin limbs were left spread over a field at Hawke's Bay Airport over the weekend.

The gruesome scene was no act of vandalism and was certainly no accident as police conducted training exercises in disaster victim identification (DVI).

A mass-fatality crash-landing of a plane was simulated on Friday, and a high-speed car crash with three deceased and dismembered bodies was simulated on Saturday.

Often in mass-fatality crashes bodies are dismembered and parts mixed, Detective Michael Signal said.


The spread of blood over 80m and use of offal was to make the scene as realistic as possible for emergency services staff, he said.

"We wanted to practice the realistic conditions and how to deal with biological substances which can carry diseases and be dangerous," Signal said.

The exercise was run in conjunction with the Hawke's Bay District Health Board, Napier airport, fire service, airport rescue and police.

Local emergency teams use DVI when a victim is not immediately identifiable by appearance.

It is often used in mass fatality crashes or a situation where a body has been left unnoticed for an extended period.

In a crash situation where bodies may be disfigured or dismembered the team use fingerprints, DNA, and dental records as primary forms of identification.

If these cannot be established, they will look at circumstantial evidence such as the house or car the victim is found in.

The team practiced what would be expected of them in DVI to ensure they were prepared when the real situation arises.


Signal said especially over summer, elderly people can often be forgotten about. "Finding someone who has been left for some time is a really unpleasant experience for the family and our staff who have to identify them," he said.

"It would be great if over summer neighbours and friends can check on vulnerable people around them. If you notice mail building up or haven't seen someone in a while just knock on the door and check they're okay."

The training was also an opportunity for emergency services teams to meet the new local coroner Tracey Fitzgibbon.