On Wednesday night some of our Swift and Flood Water Rescue Technicians (SRTs) carried out a simulated rescue of a casualty from the River Dee near Llangollen. Incidents often seem to happen at night so team members need to be prepared to deal with the additional challenges brought about by operating in the dark, or reduced light. Note: All of the operations below require the use of specialist equipment and training. NEVER enter water to rescue someone – you are likely to end up as another casualty for someone to rescue – or worse!
The pictures tell the tale so look at the headings for each one (note: modern digital cameras seem to see better in the dark than humans…. other than in the torch lights it was VERY dark!)
After a safety briefing and assigning roles a quick search identified our casualty (a 45Kg Dummy). They were found entrapped in trees on an island in the river. We quickly set up a safe working system with downstream swimmers and up stream spotters, before a team member swam across to the island towing a special type of semi floating rope. It’s important not to use ordinary rope as that sinks and creates an extra entrapment hazard. He secured the rope and assessed the casualty. Rapid evacuation back to our side of the river was deemed the best action.
Next step was to build a rope system to transfer another rescuer across. This is known as a tension diagonal, a rope strung at the correct angle and tension can be slid along using the downstream current to push the rescuer across to the other side.
Building the tension diagonal rope system
Once the rope system was ready the next rescuer attached to the line and slid across to assist with moving the casualty.
Rescuer going across the river on the tension diagonal – sliding along the rope attached to their back, using the current to cross.
Next we quickly got the casualty and rescuer attached to the rope, which had now been released and just held in hands for control, ready to “pendulum” back across to the river bank, again using the water flow to move the rescuer and casualty across the river.
Casualty and rescuer in the water on the end of the rope
The casualty is safely held by the rescuer who is attached from the back of their Personal Floatation Device. The second rescuer on the island has a second rope attached to pull back the main rope so he can be recovered after the casualty is safely at the side of the river.
Rescuer and casualty penduluming back to the river bank
A third rescuer helps to get the casualty back upstream to where they can be extracted up the river bank to safety.
Pulling the swimming rescuer and the casualty into the bank.
Once at the safe extraction point the team prepared the casualty to be carried up to a safe area away from the waters edge.
Packaging the casualty for extraction
All that was left was the usual debrief to highlight learning points.
A great session!