Swift Water team

Moutain Rescue swift water search & rescue teamIn late 2012, 11 members of the Dartmoor Search & Rescue Team Plymouth (DSRTP) travelled to Symmonds Yat in the Brecon Beacons to become re-qualified as Swift Water Technicians.

The course was run by Howie Crook, a Rescue 3 instructor who also sits on the mountain rescue’s advisory panel for water rescue. Howie has extensive experience in water rescue having trained outdoor technicians, Police, Fire, Paramedics, RNLI and mountain rescue teams from across Britain; he is also a qualified mountain instructor and kayak instructor/assessor with over 20 years of moving water experience. Many people would say that going for a swim in freezing, fast flowing, wide rivers in January is not a normal thing to do, but that is exactly what we did!

A few years ago our Team decided to raise the standard of water rescue skills within the DSRT Plymouth following a tragic accident in which a teenager died in a flooded river on Dartmoor.  This improved standard of training ensures that there will always be sufficient water rescue trained members available at any time. The current training structure ensures that all team members must be familiar with ‘Swift Water Awareness’ and be able to operate safely on the banks of rivers and lakes. This is now a mandatory part of team training.  In addition, those who are willing to do so can take on higher levels of training which will qualify them to enter the water when required.

At present we have over 10 members fully trained to Level 2: Water First Responder who can work safely near and in water using land based and wading techniques, and 10 members who are trained to Level 3: Water Rescue Technician who can undertake specialist water rescue operations.

The training course has greatly improved the level of training within the team and ensures that members are confident enough to enter fast moving water in difficult conditions to undertake a rescue operation, either as part of a river bank based team or with the use of ropes and boats if required.

Keeping all of these members trained to a safe standard is a huge commitment in terms of both time and money but, in turn, it gives the community a fantastic service to use if required.

Each member of the water rescue group requires sufficient Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for the task, currently this costs about £500 per person and, as some of the equipment is getting old, the team is looking to renew and replace these items over the coming months. Even though we are a volunteer organisation, there are always costs involved and fundraising is never far from our thoughts.