Robin Duffy’s decision to sign up for a University-led visit to the United of States of America simply couldn’t have worked out better for him. Having graduated from UCLan in 2018 after studying BSc (Hons) Forensic Science and Criminal Investigation, Robin took advantage of the University’s regular trip to Arizona in 2017 and earned himself a qualification in disaster victim identification (DVI).
While in America, he worked on a real-life plane crash at identifying deceased through personal items, as well as forensic photography.
It was quite an experience too – Robin was forced well out of his comfort zone, having to work in extreme temperatures in what is effectively a desert.
“The first four or five days we were working full on with a plane crash that had happened a few years before,” he said.
“We had to work as a team to find everything, I was team manager of one team, so we had little searches and went through the different processes for DVI, which include the ante-mortem, recovery and identification of the deceased.
“One day we were in full scene suits in 45-degree heat. But overall it was a fantastic opportunity.”
The first question his new employers asked him at his interview was about the trip and the certificate he received for his work in the USA. This, coupled with the experience he gained whilst on placement, gave him the skills to secure a job at Kenyon International Emergency Services.
As Robin explains, the trip to the States and the programme set out by UCLan enabled him to get to where he is now, and he thinks it’s absolutely imperative that students take the chance to travel there to boost their prospects.
“The trip to Arizona was advertised during the open days when I came here so I was already interested in it before I started” Robin said.
“In my first year, the first lecture that was given by my course leader (Kevin Pritchard) was telling us about this trip. He brought two or three students in, who told us about the experience and what they did in Arizona, and having some kind of interest in disaster management and crash investigation, it was a fantastic opportunity to take because it had a mix of both.
“The 150 people in policing, forensic science and criminal investigation will all have a degree, and if all they go for one job you’ve got to make yourself stand out. Having a qualification like this is the opportunity to stand out to potential employers.”
Furthermore, Arizona has perfectly set him up for his role due to the travelling he may have to do, plus the foreign environments he could be sent to.
Robin has to always be by his phone, as he can be sent anywhere across the globe with not even a day’s notice. He said: “Part of my contract is that I always have to be available. I have to check my emails regularly in case something happens in the world.
“My suitcase is always packed, because I could be receiving an email right now saying that I have to fly to Sri Lanka, Japan or Indonesia tonight or tomorrow, for example, and that they’ve booked me a flight. I would be there for three weeks and working in whatever field they need me to be in. They hired me for a few positions because of my DVI qualification and photography experience.
“The trip to Arizona definitely prepared me. Arizona is not like England obviously, over here you wear your scene suit in comfortable weather at around 18 degrees sometimes, whereas there it’s 45 degrees.
Ultimately, Robin believes he wouldn’t be where he is and achieved what he has done without the help of UCLan and his lecturers and he says that the staff was the major pull to bring him here in the first place. It has even inspired him to continue his studies with a Masters course.
“Travelling is something I always wanted to do, I’m currently studying my Masters in Fire and Emergency Service Management and Disaster Management so the Arizona trip lead on to that. It fascinated me how disasters happen and in the future I want to do something specialising in DVI, and that’s all because of the trip.
“What made me choose UCLan was the lecturers’ enthusiasm. Most of the other universities had similar kinds of facilities and programmes, but the lecturers were more academic. Our course here has a mixture of academics and practitioners, so people who’ve actually been out in the field and are experienced, and their stories just made me choose this university.
Looking ahead to the future, Robin’s ambition is there for all to see. However, if his dream of living and working in America permanently doesn’t come true, his hard work and achievements at UCLan have left him with a plethora of options. He said: “My end goal is to work for the New York Police Department (NYPD).
“I went to New York earlier this year to make some contacts over there and I’d like to work as a detective. Hopefully I can move there in the next couple of years, but if that doesn’t materialise then I’ll still be in England. I’ve just applied for the Merseyside Police to be a police officer.”
21 December 2018