The freezing weather did nothing to deter Serve On’s newest search-and-rescue recruits as they began their swift water rescue training at the weekend.
Operational members from the International Response Team joined them to their brush up on their own skills.
Our hardy volunteers worked until the early hours of Saturday morning – inside and outside of the classroom - learning the history, laws and techniques of Swift Water Rescue, plus information on water hazards and hydrology and some defensive and aggressive swimming techniques.
Before they finally got their heads down for a truncated night’s sleep, they were instructed on the proper care and usage of their Swift Water Rescue kit, and the importance of decontamination drills, and then packed their bags ready for action.
A chilly early start on Saturday morning saw them practising on dry land (but in cold and sleety rain) with their throw bags.
They were also taught wading techniques in the classroom and learned a few essential knots.
Then, after Serve On’s Annual General Meeting, it was time to take the plunge and put some of their lessons into practice in the water.
A short drive to the River Avon at Figheldean found the ideal water conditions.
There were fluctuating currents approaching a mini weir, and some decent eddy fences to contend with plus some strainers and other hazards to avoid after the short burst of rapid water.
They found how, as a team and with the right wading techniques, they could make progress through rapid water that would easily carry away a lone person and they had ample opportunity to practice their line throwing for a succession of ‘casualties’ as fellow volunteers used their defensive swimming techniques in the flow.
Back at Salisbury Fire Station, the volunteers diligently washed their gear and hung it in the drying tent they had constructed so it would be ready for the next ‘shout’, and after preparing a warming meal it was back to the classroom for more theory and some sobering videos of what can go wrong if Swift Water Rescue is not done right.
Another cold start on Sunday morning saw the recruits back in the River Avon, this time in Salisbury, practising more line throwing, wading and use of the reach pole.
By the time they had finished training and cleaned all the equipment, they were understandably cold and tired, but grateful for a weekend of valuable lessons, thanks to instructors Ian, Nick, Mark and Craig.
*Our amazing volunteers offer their time for free, but their training and the deployments they are preparing for cost money.
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