Mountain Rescue England & Wales Trial Water Safety course

This weekend Fred Taylor (Water Safety Officer for the MPSRO and Bolton MRT callout list member), along with his chauffer, Bolton MRT DTL, Geoff Seddon, both made their way to the Tyn Dwr Outdoor, Centre, Llangollen for a pilot waterside Bank Safety Course, being trialled by Water Safety Officers and the National Water Safety Officer, within Mountain Rescue England & Wales.

Below follows Fred’s account of the excellent weekend.

“We had a pretty uneventful trip down – apart from Geoff not taking any notice of the woman telling him which way to go (I’m referring to the Sat-Nav – and yes it did get us to the front door).

What a place (the accomodation) – it was excellent, well the main building was. As for the the Yurts, Yurks or the “Water Storage Tank with Insulation”, well that was different, believe me you have to experience them for yourself.

We met up with the rest of the Water team, who came from all over England and Wales. After an introduction we had a few glasses of the brown liquid, and had discussions about Water Rescue, Rugby and sheep (of course, after all, it was in Wales). It was then time for bed, and so we made our way to the “Insulated Water Tanks”.

The next morning we had an alarm call at day light, well way before dawn anyway! It was those black things with wings (that’s the crows), about 3 million of them going off with the sound they made! Guess what, when we got up for breakfast at 0730 hrs they shut up. Anyway a very good breakfast over with and our packed lunch was put into its little bag, it was off to The Canolfan Tryweryn National Whitewater Centre – Frongoch, Bala.

There we met with the trial class of the course, and other members of the Water Safety team. The trial class were members from NEWSAR, who were to be our inexperienced students.

We had two classes running side by side, one with experienced Water Rescue and safety personnel and one with students with no water or bankside experience.

The inexperienced group had a syllabus to run to with timings that the Water Team officers had put together. The results from this group were very encouraging and the timings were spot on.

The other group of experienced MR personnel discussed the course in more detail and gave input – in the coffee bar (well it was raining). We then went back to the work area, kitted up ready to run though the program. The group did the practical exercises and discussed the practicalities of the ways and relevance of the drills.

This course is not a rescue course – it is an awareness course and it is designed to make MRT team members more aware of waterside bank safety and methods to minimising inadvertent accidents that may occur with Mountain Rescue operations (and training!). If something does go wrong, then instruction in self rescue or team rescue is covered by the course.

The course is being developed as a practical course and activities took place in the water with particpants totally totally equipped with a dry suit, suitable helmet and buoyancy aid etc. There is a theory section also being developed, which will be in the form of a DVD – this was trialled on the weekend.

Sunday morning, after the crows woke us up again, was taken up with the experienced group and the Water Reps debriefing the events of the weekend. The comments of the inexperienced students, now experienced ?, were discussed.

It is intended that this course will be available to all MR England & Wales MRT’s in the near future. An advanced course also being developed, and will similarly be trialled.

Fred Taylor”