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New rescue equipment to help get people out of trouble in Bedfordshire’s waterways

To help rescue people in trouble in open water, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) is working with partners to install rescue equipment in areas noted as high-risk.

The rescue equipment is attached to water safety boards and is being installed in 12 locations across Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton.

Since 2013, In Bedfordshire, there have been over 20 incidents recorded as accidental drowning across the county and the Service attended more than 70 water related incidents.

These incidents involved people who got into trouble in Bedfordshire’s waters, whether by accidentally falling into the water or by getting into difficulties when swimming.

David Lynch, BFRS Area Community Safety Officer, said: “In many cases people put themselves at risk when trying to save someone from drowning. This rescue equipment enables people to help save someone in trouble in the water without putting themselves at risk.

“We are pleased to work with colleagues to get these rescue boards in place and look forward to their successful use to save lives.”

The rescue equipment is kept in locked cabinets that can only be opened by a code obtained from the fire service, ensuring protection against anti-social behaviour. The code to unlock is given to a caller making a 999 call after they give the location of that board.

The boards come in three styles;

  • Throw bag only – containing a float and line to help someone gain buoyancy and be pulled to safety
  • Dual throw bag and reach pole – with the addition of an extendible pole to reach someone in trouble and pull them to safety
  • Reach pole only

Each board has instructions on how to access and use the equipment and advice can be given by calling 999 and asking for the fire service.

The boards will be placed in:

  • 4x Bedford
  • 1x Harrold
  • 2x Wixams
  • 1x Sandy
  • 2x Biggleswade
  • 1x Leighton Buzzard
  • 1x Luton

Bedfordshire Police Superintendent Nick Lyall added: “Tragically, we have experienced a number of incidents in which people have lost their lives while enjoying Bedfordshire’s outdoor spaces.

“Whenever such a terrible incident occurs, we work in close partnership with our colleagues in the fire service to do our very best to assist those in distress. However, the availability of such equipment will help members of the public to safely offer aid to those who need it, and hopefully prevent serious injury or loss of life.

“We would still always advise residents to never be tempted to enter rivers or open water, but are pleased to announce this important development in partnership BFRS.”