Declan’s messing around in the river…


“Since I got my BA qualification I have managed to pick up a couple of BA wears (using breathing apparatus at a fire.) They weren’t all that exciting as a lot of the smoke had cleared because of other teams work at the job. But it was still good experience to get to use it for real. Both times I was with a really experienced fire fighter so I felt really confident. He was happy as he had someone to do most of the work!! I guess that’s what happens when you’re the newbie.

At Kings Lynn we unfortunately go to a lot of water rescues. Sometimes people have a few drinks and fall in the river or swim in some of the local lakes that have weed under the surface which causes them to get into difficulties and sometimes drown. So we have some special equipment and training to help people that get themselves in trouble. This meant I went on a water first responder course to teach me how to rescue people from water.

Declan practising his throwbagging techniqueThere are different levels of water rescuer, and water first responder is in the middle, more trained than water awareness training but not as skilled as swift water rescue technicians.

You’ve all seen the attractive outfit we wear for water rescue in a previous blog, but now I’ve had the chance to wear it in water I can see why. It would be so cold without it.  You start the day doing all your theory and practise using a throw line in the yard. A throw line is essentially a bag full of rope that floats. We throw it to casualties in the water for them to catch so we can pull them in. It is not as easy as it sounds.

After this we spent most of the day in the water. It did feel like a lot of splashing about to begin with but you’re soon focussed on how to keep yourself safe in the water, positioning your body to protect yourself when you’re caught up in the flow. We practise wading techniques to rescue casualties that are stuck in water that is shallow enough to wade through but is moving too fast for you to be able to stand up by yourself so you have to get really friendly with your fellow water first responders so you don’t get washed away.

Then there’s throw bagging in the water. When your hands are wet and with a little fatigue and cold it’s definitely not as easy as it looks. And I never thought it looked that easy. But with a bit of practise you’re soon dragging firefighters out of the water left right and centre. There’s even a technique to get 2 casualties out with one rope!

Part of my training as a new fire fighter is to take part in what are called gateway assessments. I have my first one coming up so I will be working hard to make sure I pass it. I will let you know how I get on.

If you want any more information about how to stay safe in water please follow this link to some information on our website. I know I sound all a bit official  but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a fire fighter if I didn’t try to help you keep you all safe.