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Saturday 6 April 2013

Water bank Search Training

This weekend another 18 members passed the Association of Lowland Search and Rescue (ALSAR) Water Bank Search Training course that we ran at the stunning Quarry Bank Mill at the National Trusts Styal Estate. The course is an introduction to searching around water and is a prerequisite for attending the Flood Responder Course which 16 members will be attending next weekend.

Cheshire not only has hundreds of miles of river and canal banks including the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal but also increasingly, and frequently suffers from flooding. We currently have members that are trained to search up to and in the water and we are in the process of increasing this capability over the coming months.

The course is run over several weeks with evening sessions including presentations, Emergency Services training videos, throw line practice (lots of), a clothed outdoor swimming proficiency test and equipment familiarization. The final part of the course is a day spent in and around a river and includes sessions summarised below:

Hazards

Identification of water conditions and features including ‘stoppers’ where a currant can force a person upstream towards the face of a weir and then force them under the surface to be flushed out downstream. ‘Strainers’ are obstacles that can be hidden by the flow of water and water can pass through them but the force of water can trap somebody against them. Examples of this are tree roots, fences, vehicles etc. In urban environments floods can cause other dangers such as manhole covers which can be blown off by the force of water an present an obvious danger.

Other hazards include Drowning, asphyxiation, hypothermia, fatigue and diseases such as Weils disease, Hepatitis, Polio, Typhoid, Tetanus, Amoebic Dysentery and Salmonella.

Equipment

Demonstration of and practice with various pieces of kit.

Personal Flotation Devices donated by Warrington Youth Club members

Swimming

This section if for participants to appreciate the power and inherent danger of moving water and how to react if they accidentally fall in to it. Candidates are taught defensive swimming and how to avoid obstacles and dangers along with various whistle and hand signals initially on dry land and then this is put into practice in the river.

The use of and practice with throw lines

River Crossings

The dangers of crossing a moving river are discussed and a variety of techniques are demonstrated and practiced.

Bank side searching

Techniques build on search skills but the focus is on safety and the fact that this can (and must) be a slow process.

We would like to offer our sincere thanks to the National Trust who allowed us to train on the beautiful estate. We met lots of the volunteers that work there and visitors and would like to sincerely thank them for their kind words, donations and pledges of support.

We would also like to thank our friends at Southport Offshore Rescue Trust (www.southport-lifeboat.co.uk) for the loan of the drysuits.

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