Earlier this week as part of Water Safety Awareness Week I wrote an article giving details of a number of Police water rescues this year where officers have risked their lives saving others.
At least 2 out of 6 Police Rescues were in areas where no water safety training is given to officers and no rescue equipment available in vehicles.
However in Strathclyde where 2 police officers entered Loch Lomond to rescue a drowning man, officers receive yearly refresher training and all Police vehicles carry bouyancy aids and a throw line.
I have researched the Police Memorial site and discovered eleven officers have given their lives entering water to attempt rescues whilst on duty. Many more have died off duty.
Many times this year officers have entered water to rescue people at risk of drowning, but it is a postcode lottery whether the officer attending has received any water safety training let alone water rescue training and may or may not be supplied with any form of rescue equipment.
With flooding and flood warnings in place throughout the country many officers face the possibility of being involved imminently in a rescue situation,
I have served attachment with a marine unit and received a days sea survival training, but from the ‘frontline’ perspective I was trained to retrieve a brick and tow a compliant drowning person to shore in 1982. I served for 30 years and never received follow up training, yet have had to sit through the most boring and often irrelevant e-learning on other less important subjects.
What are ACPO doing about this issue. Well on 17th of June I provided my research and concerns,in an email entitled
Warning about a preventable risk likely to cause the death of a Police Officer if not addressed.
requesting to be told who would take this forward so that I could follow the response.
The response: We acknowledge receipt of your e-mail and will take the Rescue article into consideration and forward for the attention of the ACPO lead for Search & Rescue based in North Wales Police force and the Safer & Healthier Policing Portfolio based in Northern Ireland.
A reply asking for the contact details stated
Unfortunately we are not able to give this information to you but your details have been forwarded to them and they will contact you if they wish to discuss this further with you.
Both signed by a person who appears to be called ‘Kind Regards’ !
I understand from a source at the Police Federation that this subject has been raised with ACPO, and that a very large document has been written on the subject by the ACPO lead but this document was too large to be of practical use as an advice document for those that need it.
My personal view is that every officer could be issued tomorrow with a pocket book insert giving the general advice contained in the rescue section of this Water safety leaflet issued to the public by Hampshire Fire and Rescue service.
In essence this document recommends: Think, Get Help, Throw, Reach, Wade or Row.
I am also aware this year that an officer in Wales did in fact save a person from drowning in a harbour by rowing to the rescue.
An argument I have heard this week is if Police vehicles carried throw lines training would have to be given or officers wouldn’t hold onto the end of the rope. Personally if I was drowning I’d take that risk and would rather a police vehicle carried a throw line than not. If training is needed, well e-learning or a video should suffice. In fact my wife teaches better water safety to six year olds than the Police teach to emergency responders