Team attends GMFRS Lifelong Learning Event, ‘Water Safety Awareness.’

Today at the kind invitation of Paul Smith, Blue Watch, Leigh Fire Station, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, four team members took part in a GMFRS Lifelong Learning, Celebration of Learning, CPD accredited, Water Safety Awareness Event held at Leigh Fire Station.

Attending from the team were Team Leader Garry Rhodes MBE, Deputy Team Leader Geoff Seddon, Training Officer Elaine Gilliland and Team member John Fletcher.
They attended with one of our Land Rover Mountain Rescue Ambulances, and with our 3.5m semi rigid inflatable SAR Boat.

Others present included Blue Watch GMFRS Leigh Fire Station, Blue Watch GMFRS Atherton Fire Station, GMFRS Community Volunteers, representatives from varied sections of the Environment Agency and Countryside staff from Wigan MBC. (In total from all organisations present, thirty people were in attendance)

Starting at 10.00hrs, was a presentation from the Parks Officer, Wigan MBC with responsibility for the Pennington Flash Country Park (a very large expanse of water next to Leigh Fire Station)

He outlined the history and formation of the Flash, and went into some detail about water depths (maximum depth a surprising 21 feet, ’peaking’ at circa 24 feet in flood conditions) and some of the dangers associated with this water body.

The many representatives from the Environment Agency then outlined their roles and capabilities, which included the following sessions;

  • The Operational Delivery Field Teams, Reactive and Flood Response Teams, including their use of Breathing Apparatus and Confined Space Working.
  • Flood Incident Management Team and their vital flood mapping role.
  • Environmental Management Team, and their role in pollution control and prevention, ’spillage’ pollution at incidents, and assessment of environmental sensitivities at incidents.

Geoff Seddon our Deputy Team Leader then gave an overview of the Bolton MRTs role in water incidents, from searches to rescues, and the national role and assistance that some mountain rescue teams with their specialist capabilities and equipment can provide in flood incidents.

Following a tea and toast break, a series of outdoor practical sessions then took place, including;

  • Water Throw Lines, a practical session by GMFRS.
  • Demonstration by GMFRS of Inflated Hose Lines (’simple’ equipment carried on all GMFRS Pump Appliances)
  • A display of all the comprehensive search and rescue equipment carried within our Land Rover MR Ambulance attending, plus our SAR Boat and Water Incident PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)
  • Demonstration of a tensioned diagonal line by GMFRS.

The event finished in the early afternoon with any questions and the swopping of contact details for follow up exercises and joint training opportunities.

The Bolton MRT members present would like to thank Paul Smith GMFRS for organising this excellent event, and the members of Blue Watch, Leigh Fire Station for their hospitality in hosting this event.