Richmond School pupils get water safety training

Year 9 students at Richmond School have received training in water safety that could help them save lives.

Firefighters Robyn Foster and Isaac Dawson, and community safety officer Laura Hodson, all from Richmond Fire Station, delivered a series of presentations and hands-on rescue-based activities to more than 200 students to highlight the risks associated with water and how to deal with the dangers, should an emergency arise.

There were eight 40-minute workshops which started with an introductory presentation about the perils of water.

This was followed up with a hazard-spotting task using a ‘water safety flume’, a large pool that mimics a variety of different open water risks, demonstrating the power of water and the unpredictability of currents.

Two further hands-on demonstrations allowed the students to simulate rescue situations whereby they would help someone who was in distress in the water by using an emergency throw bag, a branch or making their own rope by tying clothing together. The firefighters explained how teamwork can be critical when trying to pull someone to safety who is caught in strong currents or difficult conditions.

The students were also advised to call 999 and ask for the Fire Service and consider using GPS Apps such as What3Words to let the 999 operators and crews know their exact location.

Firefighter Robyn Foster said: “The more life-saving techniques we can teach the younger generation, the greater the chances of survival of someone that might find themselves in a difficult situation.”

Firefighter and alumnus Isaac Dawson, added: “It was great to see the young people engaging with the practical and theory sessions. Hopefully, they will have the confidence to utilise those skills, should they ever require them.”

Lesley Abbey, lead teacher for PE and organiser of the event, said: “The Firefighters shared crucial guidance on staying safe in water.

“They urged the students never to swim alone and to always check for any unexpected obstacles, strong undercurrents and hidden depths before jumping in water.

“In addition, students were encouraged to take time to acclimatise to the water temperature as cold water can cause the body’s temperature to decrease dramatically, making it difficult to breathe and swim.

“Two key messages that were emphasised were ‘if in doubt, stay out’ and if someone does fall into water then they should stretch out like a starfish and ‘float to live.”