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Banking On Safety - Lifesaving Device Makes Waves in Water Rescue

A revolutionary new water rescue device could save more lives on Britain’s riverbanks after being chosen for a special pilot project by Bedfordshire fire and Rescue Service.

The Portsafe rescue system will take a prominent position along the banks of the River Great Ouse in Bedfordshire as part of ground-breaking water safety trial in co-operation with Bedfordshire fire and Rescue Service. 

The pole-based system can reach someone in distress in the water in as little as 20 seconds. It is so easy to use that members of the public will be able to begin the rescue while the emergency services are on the way. 

Portsafe consists of the innovation award-winning Reach and Rescue pole. Already used by 70 per cent of the UK’s fire services, the pole extends to 17 metres and comes with a range of attachments for a host of rescue scenarios.

The pole is contained in a lockable box and stands the water’s edge similar to the traditional lifebuoy. But unlike the lifebuoy, it is secure and tamper proof. 

Jo Taylor, from Reach and Rescue, explains: “We work with many different rescue organisations and our poles are already widely used in lifeboats, marinas and ports across the world. Until now they have only been used by rescue workers but they are so easy to use and effective that they could accessed by the public, just like a lifebuoy.”

“However, by talking to fire and rescue workers we have found that there is a real problem with lifebuoys being stolen or vandalised. So we have created something much more secure.”

The lockable box will carry a number for members of the public to call to allow access to the Reach and Rescue pole. The same call could also be used to raise the alarm to the emergency services. 

“In a rescue situation every second is vital,” said Jo. “The real beauty of the system’s rigid design is that you can direct and control the rescue rather than expecting someone who is in the water, cold, confused and terrified to swim towards a ring.” 

The Reach and Rescue has a host of different applications including animal rescue and safety when working in high places. It also has a camera attachment to allow it to be used in search operations in hard to reach places or underwater.

The Wigan-based company started life seven years ago and since then has continued to refine and improve the original invention. It is now used in 33 countries by a variety of rescue agencies and has been proven to save live

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will be the first brigade in the country to use the Portsafe system on the banks of the Ouse close to Kempston Fire Station. 

Bedford Fire and Rescue Service Community Safety Officer David Lynch, said: “Our key message is that people should not put themselves in danger by entering the water to attempt a rescue. The Reach and Rescue poles will allow people who see someone in trouble in the water to help them while keeping safe themselves. 

“To get the pole they’ll need to call the Fire Service on 999 for a code to unlock it, which means we’ll also be on our way to assist. We are continually looking for ways to keep people safe by the water and the Reach and Rescue pole will be a welcome piece of life saving equipment to have alongside Bedfordshire’s open water.” 

For more information about Reach and Rescue, visit: www.reachandrescue.com

Visit our water safety page to stay safe around open water.