Summer 2014 water safety campaign - training exercise

Thu 7 Aug, 2014

Firefighters are continuing to support this summer’s water safety campaign in Milton Keynes led by the SaferMK community safety partnership and The Park Trust.

Yesterday (Wednesday 6 August), members of Blue Watch at Newport Pagnell Fire Station visited Waterhall Park in Bletchley to carry out a training exercise, where they simulated a rescue from the weir on the River Ouzel. Part of the exercise is pictured above.

Rangers from The Parks Trust include this stretch of the river in their daily patrols to promote water safety messages and highlight the risks of entering the water.  

Crews from all fire stations in Milton Keynes regularly visit lakes, rivers and other areas of open water where the public are known to swim to promote the message that the only safe place to swim is in a swimming pool

On a recent visit to Waterhall Park with a ranger, Christine Duncan, Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety coordinator for Milton Keynes, spoke to a number of familes at the site. 

She said: “There were about eight children playing in the water, some chest deep, the youngest being two years old.

“Even good swimmers can be caught out by hidden dangers such as fast currents, deep holes, soft mud, weeds or rubbish. Any stretch of water, still or flowing, has the capability to kill.”

Remote sites and high bank sides can make it hard for the emergency services to reach casualties. Training exercises such as this one are vital, enabling firefighters to pinpoint the best boat-launching areas.

Every year, countless people suffer injuries or fall ill after swimming in the UK's inland waterways, and in some cases lose their lives.

Last month, two people died after going into the lake at Bletchley’s Blue Lagoon Local Nature Reserve, and a boy drowned in the River Thames near Marlow

Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service has water rescue units based at Newport Pagnell Fire Station and Beaconsfield Fire Station. Buckinghamshire & Milton Keynes Fire Authority has recently invested £30,000 in replacing the rescue boats at both stations. See below for a picture of the new boat at Newport Pagnell.

Christine is asking people to remember these safety tips:

  • The safest place to swim is in a supervised swimming pool. The water is clean, clear and warm, and there are lifeguards on hand if something goes wrong.
  • Warn your children of the risks, and know where they are when they are out playing.
  • Act responsibly near water, and never swim, even where allowed, after drinking alcohol.
  • If you see a swimmer is in difficulty or there is a risk of drowning, call 999 
  • At home, keep small children away from ponds and pools and make sure they are supervised in the bath.
  • Click here to see a water safety poster produced as part of the campaign by the SaferMK community safety partnership and The Parks Trust.