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Water safety advice

25th March 2010

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (NYFRS) crews from Richmond and Whitby Fire Stations practiced their skills this week, carrying out an exercise at Richmond Falls.

The training exercise, which was carried out in conjunction with members of the Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team, was designed to test the Swift Water Team’s skills in rescuing a number of casualties from the water at the falls. The scenario was based on a real incident which happened last year, where two local boys were rescued from the same spot after becoming trapped by rising water.

Group Manager Carl Boasman said:
”Our Swift Water Rescue Teams practice all year round, and with spring approaching, we are preparing for what may be our busiest time of year for water rescue. Each year in Richmondshire, the Swift Water Team rescue several people who become trapped, or get into difficulty after entering the water. The River Swale is notorious for its rapid changes in river depth, and catches unwary people out on a regular basis.”

He continues:
”Joint exercises with our partner agencies mean that we can provide a highly skilled response team to these situations when they arise.”

The exercise involved five simulated casualties, who had become trapped in the falls area, requiring rescue. Crews used rescue swimmers, line equipment and rescue boats to rescue the casualties and bring them to shore.

Richard Hay of Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team said:

”The volunteers of Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team have recently expanded their water and flood rescue capability supported by funding from Leader; this means that we are better able to assist our colleagues from the Fire and Rescue Service.  The exercise today at Richmond Falls was an excellent example of how the transferable skills of rescuers from both organisations can be brought together to serve our community.”

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service offer the following advice regarding water safety;
Be aware that the temperature in open water is often dangerously low.

Always supervise children near to open water.

Even the strongest swimmers can find themselves in difficulty when the body suffers loss of strength and muscle coordination in cold water.

Be aware of life-threatening hazards in water such as rocks, unseen vegetation and discarded rubbish and never jump in.

Take care even in shallow water. Just 15cm of flowing water can knock a person of their feet.        

Pay attention to warning signs – they are there for your protection.  

If you see anyone in the water, do not jump in to try and save them. Call 999, shout for help and reach, throw or row to help, if it is safe to do so.

NYFRS always recommend that people who wish to swim visit an appropriate facility such as their local swimming pool.

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