Team members practise with the Northern Diver rescue sled. Photo: Calder Valley SRT

Team members practise with the Northern Diver rescue sled. Photo: Calder Valley SRT

A rescue team based in an area repeatedly hit by flooding has invested £13,000 in equipment and training to help in future incidents.

Flood sirens were activated recently in the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, prompting fears of a repeat of last year’s December inundation that left towns and villages in the area under several feet of water.

Calder Valley Search and Rescue Team, whose Mytholmroyd base was among many properties in the district to be flooded, has increased its capability to respond to such incidents, thanks to donations it received.

Tim Ingram of the team said community, local organisations and private companies throughout the Calder Valley have contributed. “Thanks to this fantastic support, our water rescue team has managed to train three new swiftwater rescue technicians and recertified five other members to the same high national standard required in flood rescue response.

“All these members attended an intensive four-day course in Wales.

Rescue team members practise their swiftwater skills in the River Calder. Photo: Calder Valley SRT

Rescue team members practise their swiftwater skills in the River Calder. Photo: Calder Valley SRT

“The team currently has 10 swiftwater rescue technicians capable of carrying out water entry-rescue techniques in both water and flood incidents, who are supported by a further 12 water responders providing bank-side support.

“With training costs and the purchase of specialist water equipment including a rescue sled, aluminium boat and trailer modifications, drysuits and waterproof radio communications, the team has invested approximately £13,000 to date on its swiftwater flood rescue capability.

“This means the team are in a strong position to meet the calls for assistance from the statutory emergency services and to help the communities both locally and further afield.”

The team has also invested in a new aluminium boat. Photo: Calder Valley SRT

The team has also invested in a new aluminium boat. Photo: Calder Valley SRT

Mr Ingram said the team spent a Sunday in December refreshing its water rescue skills at Sowerby Bridge. “Water environments are very dangerous, demanding places and require a high level of skills to be maintained,” he said.

“During the day, water team members carried out refresher training of basic survival skills including defensive swimming and self-rescue using the river hydrology through the flows of the canoe slalom course.

“While river levels appeared low, there was still plenty of current along the course to challenge the group. The water team then moved onto rescue techniques including throw-line rescue, wading and tethered swim rescues.

“As a result of experience gained during the floods in Cumbria and the Calder Valley, team members practised the extraction of a non-walking casualty across fast flows using a wading formation to protect the casualty whilst providing stability.

“The team also had the opportunity to train using their new Northern Diver rescue sled to affect the rescue of casualties from the water. There was also time to practise water-based bank searching, which the team is sometimes tasked to do in the search for missing persons.

“Probationary members also had the opportunity to experience the challenges of a water environment as they were put through their paces swimming in the river flows.”

Mr Ingram added: “Our sincere thanks to all our generous benefactors who make it possible for us to continue to grow and develop the team’s specialist skills to assist partner services and safeguard the community.

“We would also like to thank Halifax Canoe Club for kindly allowing us to use their excellent club facilities, which also give members a respite from the chilly waters.”

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