Search and rescue team are joining the dots to build stronger bonds

Picture by Dave Howarth
Picture by Dave Howarth

Having learnt from our experiences over recent years during the floods, we quickly realised the need to adopt closer working relationships with all the emergency services, partner organisations and the Environmental Agency.

Floods by nature are often wide spread, devastating and generally will require immediate hands-on and intervention from many trained personnel to provide an effective response.

Picture by Mick Smith

Picture by Mick Smith

As a direct result of Boxing Day floods, CVSRT received donations from various organisations, businesses, community groups and the public.

These funds were specifically to buy specialist water rescue equipment and to train team members with new water rescue skills and knowledge.

We are great believers that the best source for knowledge is from experience, and knowledge shared is knowledge multiplied. This is why our specially trained water rescue members cascade their skills within the team, and also proactively share their knowledge externally with community groups, partner organisations, emergency services and other agencies to strengthening working relationships.

When the call comes to respond, the emergency services will of course be involved in great strength responding to calls for assistance and providing first response capability to protect life and property.

As water levels rise and roads succumb to surface water, streams and rivers breach, bringing a threat to homes and businesses, the police, fire and ambulance services will all be evident with CVSRT supporting them as required.

Highways and local authority emergency coordination staff will be clearing gullies of debris, delivering sandbags and establishing local evacuation centres.

CCTV operators and community wardens will provide vital live links with real-time assessment of the developing situation whilst Environment Agency staff and volunteer flood wardens will be patrolling their areas, providing critical ‘on the ground’ intelligence, practical support and reassurance to the communities.

These are to name but a few as experience has shown that other service providers including many from the voluntary sector will also play a massive part at all stages of such events.

When such major incidents occur, CVSRT may only play a small part in the operation, but we are determined to provide the most effective service and coordinated support possible to all the agencies and the communities we serve.

On Friday 20 October, water rescue teams from CVSRT and WYFRS (Todmorden station), attended a joint flood training exercise with Calderdale Council, flood wardens and the Environmental Agency.

As part of this exercise, both water rescue teams worked together to extract a casualty from a stricken barge. This annual multi-agency flood exercise was to test the effectiveness of resources.

However, little did we know our services would be called upon so soon! The following night, flood sirens were sounded in the Upper Valley for real.

Both WYFRS and CVSRT were deployed to Todmorden to provide a water safety response as reports of rising water levels were coming in and roads became impassable with surface water.

Thankfully for most, the flooding was minimal on this occasion, although not all residents escaped without some damage.

CVSRT members also met local flood wardens during the deployment - some of who are now familiar faces from attending our training courses.

Over recent months CVSRT First Aid professionals have been delivering Emergency First Aid courses to the local flood wardens and we are pleased to announce that seven flood wardens successfully obtained their first aid qualification on November 1.

The course focused on life saving techniques including cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and how to use a defibrillator.

As volunteers ourselves we acknowledge the incredible efforts and commitment everyone contributes at such challenging times and we understand that ‘we’re all in it together’.