Two more team members attend joint water training activity with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service

Again at the very kind invitation of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, in a repeat of the same course as yesterday, two more team members, Team Training Officer Elaine Gilliland and team member John Dickinson attended a joint water training activity with firefighters from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service.

Again as yesterday meeting at GMFRS Leigh Fire Station for an 08.00hrs departure, this full days training event took place at Llangollen, North Wales, with all present undertaking the training resulting in a ’Rescue 3 Swiftwater Responder (1st Level)’ recognised qualification.

An account of the day by Team member John Dickinson follows also containing references to the previous days course;

“Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, Swift Water and Flood First Responder Course. Wednesday and Thursday 16th and 17th November 2011.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service are at present running one day courses for Swift Water and Flood First Responders for their watch staff and they offered at short notice some places on their courses on Wednesday 16th November and today Thursday 17th November for four Bolton MRT members and so on Wednesday Steven O’Hara and Nick Berry attended the course and Thursday Elaine Gilliland and John Dickinson attended.

The course is in two parts, the theory session of which will be held at Central Bolton Fire Station in the New Year with the practical part held at Llangollen, North Wales.

We all gathered at Leigh Fire Station and met the rest of the course members who were from Blue Watch and Green Watch at Bolton and Stretford Fire Stations, we all travelled to Llangollen in the GMFRS mini bus.

On arrival at Llangollen we were met by our instructors Austin Lewis and Andy Topping who explained the aim of the course which was to show and promote safety first for the rescuer and how the rescuer can get out of trouble in fast moving water by defensive and aggressive swimming, how rescuers can operate in shallow fast moving water and how to rescue people from fast flood water.

We were all kitted out in dry suits, flotation jackets, boots, gloves and helmets and then off we went to the river. We were taught how to read the river currents for the best way to navigate any obstacles and find the calm parts if you were unfortunately swept off your feet and swept down the river during a rescue. We all practised these techniques several times going through faster and faster currents and swimming into the calm parts.

Everyone was doing well until just before lunch time ‘Big Al’ one of the firefighters missed the calm part and went off down the river towards Llangollen for an early lunch until Andy the instructor hauled him back to the bank, needless to say ‘Big Al’ never heard the last of it. This then brought us onto the last exercise before lunch which was throwing and being saved using throw lines.

After lunch we were shown techniques for wading across shallow fast flowing rivers to rescue people and take equipment across rivers, these techniques were known as line astern, line a breast and the wedge. We went on to be shown and practise using a fire hose, which was blown up with compressed air, floated across the river and then used by people to grab and use to get people out of the river currents, of course we all practised this several times. Our last exercise was to set up a series of ropes across the river in a triangular continuous loop using pulleys, karabiners and slings. After setting this continuous rope up we were shown how several people can be ferried across the river in both directions together.

The course finished with a debrief and question and answer session in the cafeteria over a deserved cup of tea.

We left Llangollen at 16.00hrs having thanked the instructors for making the day so enjoyable and informative and I might say that after Elaine was given a goodbye kiss from Austin she is now looking forward to more GMFRS Water Courses!

On behalf of myself and Elaine, we would like to thank GMFRS for giving us the opportunity to participate in these courses.”