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Specialist camera equipment to aid Norfolk's water rescues

Norfolk County Council, 21 June 2022 00:00

New equipment to aid Norfolk's firefighters in searching safely underwater has been brought into use at fire stations across Norfolk.

This week is Drowning Prevention Week and the fire and rescue service attends many water-related rescue incidents each year across the county's network of waterways and vast coastline. More than 60% of national drownings are of people who didn't intend to be in the water in the first place and more than 400 people each year drown in the UK and Ireland.

This new specialist camera equipment, costing £12,000, has been brought into service this month and allows crews to look underwater to locate casualties and hazards, without having to submerge themselves. In combination with new rescue poles, they will be able to rescue casualties without having to submerge themselves, making them safer and more effective.

The new cameras are being located with crews at wholetime stations in Norwich (Carrow), Dereham, Great Yarmouth and Kings Lynn.

"These cameras can allow crews to search underwater without having to submerge. It is a quick, efficient and safe way to look for casualties while identifying hazards that cannot be seen from the surface," said Cllr Margaret Dewsbury, Cabinet Member for Communities and Partnerships at Norfolk County Council.

The cameras include a 30 metre cable and can show live pictures and also record scenes which may help with later investigations or training.

Councillor Dewsbury said: "Our waterways make a significant contribution to Norfolk life and our tourism economy so it is important that we invest in our water incident response capability. Crews all too frequently attend incidents where casualties are reported as being under the water. In some cases these turn out to be false alarms, but sadly the service does carry out regular water rescues."

Crews are also out this week giving advice and tips to the public at waterside spots. This includes what to do if they get in trouble, along with giving practical training in how to use throwlines. These allow safe water rescue without putting the rescuer at any risk. Yesterday, crews from Carrow and Earlham attended the river just off St George's Street to speak to the public about water safety.

The Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS UK) this week revealed that 62.4% of accidental drownings nationally happen in inland water, with 80% of those that drown being male. Almost a quarter of people that drown (23%) are aged 16-30 and 44% of drownings happen between May and August.

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service's Head of Prevention, Tony White, said: "If you're planning to enter open water this summer, always go with a friend and only swim in safe areas, for coasts this means on lifeguarded beaches between the red and yellow flags.

"Water is much colder than it looks and the temperature can significantly drop under the surface. Cold water shock can kill, so if you find yourself in trouble in the water then floating on your back can help you to get your breath back and keep you calm. If you see someone in trouble in the water, call 999 and then look for an aid such as a ring or throwline. These allow you to assist a rescue but without putting yourself at risk.

"Never try to get into the water yourself to try and rescue someone, as there are often hidden hazards underwater that could harm you and the person you are trying to help."

Norfolk Fire & Rescue Service is part of the Norfolk Water Safety Forum, with agencies working together to prevent death and reduce risk of water-related incidents.

Last modified: 14 May 2024 12:43

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