VOLUNTEERS from the Red Cross’s Scottish-based swift water rescue unit were in action today (Thursday) during one of the biggest emergency response exercises ever staged in the UK.
The team of 12 travelled from Inverness to Lincolnshire to take part in Exercise Watermark, designed to test the emergency response arrangements across England and Wales for severe, widespread flooding.
The Scots team joined scores of other Red Cross volunteers from south of the border for the exercise.
Along with other agencies – such as WRVS, St John Ambulance, Rotary Club, and RNLI – they were supporting the emergency services, local authorities and government departments in a variety of demanding scenarios.
Using three high-speed boats on 60-acre Tattershall Lake, the Red Cross swift water rescuers were put through their paces in several timed simulations.
- Rescuing people ‘trapped’ on the roof of a house
- Rescuing ‘casualties’ trapped in a car that had been swept away in floodwaters
- Recovering ‘bodies’ from a submerged caravan
- Carrying out search and rescue sweeps of the lake
The water rescuers were supported by a communications team working from their state-of-the-art mobile command vehicle.
Ian Rideout, Red Cross operations director for Northern Scotland, said: “Although the swift water rescue unit is based in Inverness, in a major emergency it can be deployed to any part of the UK. In the past, we have assisted during floods in Cumbria and Gloucester as well as in Scotland.
“Our volunteers are trained to the highest standards as swift water rescue technicians and undergo regular and rigorous training sessions to maintain and improve their skills.
“Large-scale exercises such as Watermark are vitally important for all the agencies involved in emergency response. The job of the Red Cross is to support the emergency services as required.”
Yesterday’s exercise was observed by HRH the Duke of Gloucester, who met some of the Scottish team to hear about their role.
Throughout the week, the British Red Cross will be working with other voluntary organisations to support the main emergency services during the exercise.
Around the country, other areas will be carrying out similar exercises as emergency services, councils, voluntary organisations and government departments come together to test their plans and preparations for different types of flooding.
Notes to editors:
To find out more about Exercise Watermark or how to become an emergency response volunteer for the British Red Cross contact 0845 054 7171 or visit www.redcross.org.uk
The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives.
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