Flood Fighters Conference

A large “Rescue” of Floodfighters gathered for the Conference on the 23 March in Poole, UK.  Many like those from York had travelled a long way for a very exciting and incredibly informative programme. Delegates included a senior representative from DEFRA and colleagues from FRS, Local Government, Ambulance and Police.  CEO of Surf Life Saving GB, Tim Coventry, welcomed everyone and introduced Conference Moderator, Jeff Dulin, now Assistant Director, International Association of Fire Chiefs, Washington USA,  formerly Deputy Fire Chief of Charlotte Fire Department, NC, USA.

DSC_0003a (2)Simon McNamara, Training Capability Advisor, CFOA Fire & Rescue National Resilience Team led off with “2015/16 UK Floods – the CFOA National Resilience perspective – how national deployments are coordinated.” Followed by Paul Savage, Lecturer in Paramedic Science, saying “Casualty Care no longer needs to be a memory test” and challenging with “Are you equipped to extricate casualties in the flood environment’?

Subsequently, our own Prof. Mike Tipton, (with two colleagues at University of Portsmouth) Dr Gemma Milligan – Senior Lecturer in Sport Exercise and Health and Dr Chris Wagstaff – Senior Lecturer and Course Leader; interacted in a lively and highly entertaining manner with the delegates. Focussing on the physical demands, fitness required to perform tasks, the impact of protective clothing – are they fit for purpose(?) – the thermal problems, and how these impact on the water responder. Particularly on how this affects efficient multi-agency organisation, leadership & communication in the swift water/flood rescue context.

DSC_0087Deputy Chief John Esposito, City of New York Fire Department gave a fascinating overview and insight into the joint agency planning and cooperation behind the January 2016 United States Winter Storm –  “A kind of a top-10 storm” with his views on do you push or pull in resources?

After viewing the exhibitor’s offerings post the “Networking lunch”, we were delighted to welcome T/ACC Ken Mcintosh of North Yorkshire Police who shared with us a highly detailed commentary of “The York Floods Winter 2016 – the Civil Authority Response and Command and Control”, a view of the hour by hour hugely difficult events from the person at the top.

An update of the vital Flood Guidance Statements (FGS) in “Providing trusted guidance to help protect lives and livelihoods from flooding” was given in a clear, detailed and fresh manner by Jon Millard, Senior Hydrometeorologist from the Met Office at Exeter.

John Wilcock, Managing Director Safequip Ltd, gave his inside track perspective on what’s “Fit for Purpose PPE – its place in keeping the Floodfighter safe” which included details of the very thorough, often personal, testing undertaken of all products offered by his company.

Our National SAR Operations & Safety Manager, Adrian Mayhew asked, “Drowning & Immersion – what do we really need to Know?” Again reminding those at the front line how important fast and informed response is in saving a life.

DSC_0074After Tea break John (Jock) Paton, SLSGB Trainer Assessor and Cornwall Flood Rescue Manager gave his views on “Lifeguard Training and its Role in Forming a Floodfighter – my experiences”. An insight into his journey from Life Guard to Floodfighter and impressions of the first deployment.

We closed with Séamus Kearns of Surrey Search & Rescue talking about “Using small RPAS (AKA drones) to keep our colleagues safe”, an insight into this rapidly developing technology, how accessible and useful this technology is proving to be, the rapid developments now including thermal search tools  and the surprisingly low cost.  A £1,000 can buy good kit and train an operator to obtain a licence.

Then the front of hall was set for interactive discussions with the presenters facilitated by Chief Jeff Dulin, given the day’s content of views and insights into the ‘best practice’ for Floodfighters; this fulfilled the promise by being a very lively session!  Geoff summarised with succinct one liners that can be reviewed at http://bit.ly/1XeKU5V.

Much feedback has been received along the lines of “Fantastic day, thank you for the invite -thoroughly informative, seeing all the flood-fighting components in one room.” And, “Lucky enough to be at a superb Flood Fighters Conference today in Poole.”

Thanks again to all who attended and who made the day so successful!