Firefighters are carrying out a special rescue exercise in Greenhithe on 9 September in a training drill named ‘Overboard’.
The scenario unfolds after two men rush into the mud to try to free their stricken dog, which has run off the towpath, to chase a wading bird onto the mud at North Star Boulevard. They quickly find themselves trapped up to their chests in mud and unable to get out.
After trying to free themselves for around 30 minutes, they manage to reach a mobile phone and dial 999 to alert the emergency services to their plight. Meanwhile, two people in a small dingy who had heard their cries for help, attempt to come to their aid but succeed in capsizing their boat in their efforts to help, resulting in both being in the river.
The joint training exercise will see four fire engines from Thames-side, Dartford, Swanscombe, Ash-cum-Ridley along with Larkfield’s Water Safety Unit, who specialise in rescues from water and unstable surfaces, rush to the scene.
Firefighters will use water safety equipment, a mud rescue platform and special rescue equipment to loosen the suction around the men's legs so they can gently be pulled out using a harness. Meanwhile, the RNLI will rescue the pair trapped in the water, maintaining communication with the Coastguard and KFRS. All four casualties will be brought safely ashore and handed into the care of South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb). The SECAmb Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) will also be involved in the exercise.
KFRS will also launch its drone to provide incident commanders on the ground with an overview of the situation from the sky.
Thames-side Watch Manager, Julian Light, organiser of the exercise explained why this type of training is so valuable to all the agencies involved: “In today’s world, interoperability and reliable communication is vital to enable all the agencies to coordinate an effective joint response. The priority is always getting the best possible outcome for the casualties.
“This type of training tests our joint working, making sure we know each others capabilities and what specialist skill and equipment we can bring to incidents. By sharing knowledge, training and skills in a collaborative way, it will only benefit future rescues."
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