Fire department provides water rescue training to workers and volunteers at Riverside Park

POTENTIAL rescue training was provided to staff and volunteers at a park in County Durham.

Casting lessons were given to people working or volunteering at Riverside Park in Chester-le-Street.

The formation grew out of the formation of a water safety group in Chester-le-Street in response to an incident last year in which a young child was rescued from the River Wear, which runs through the park.

Teams from Durham County Council, including its Chester-le-Street Area Action Partnership, joined forces with partner agencies to create the group.

They were County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS), Durham Police and water safety activist Fiona Gosling, of Crook, whose son Cameron died of a cold water shock after jumping into the River Wear near Bishop Auckland in 2015.

The group arranged for members of the fire and rescue services to demonstrate to park workers and volunteers how to use throwing ropes in the river.

This was to help those working in the park if they ever had to use the buoyancy aids located along the banks.

In addition to the training, the group also designed a meeting point sign for park users in the event of child separation, with emergency numbers if needed.

This has since been installed by park management.

The group also organizes assemblies in the schools closest to the park, with Ms Gosling, to make children and young people aware of the dangers of swimming in the river.

Councilor John Shuttleworth, County Council Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: ‘Riverside Park is a great place for people of all ages to come and have fun and we very much want that to continue.

“Incidents like last year’s are rare here, but it is of paramount importance to us to continue to ensure that those who visit this waterfront environment do so safely.

“That’s what the work we’ve done with the fire department, the police and Fiona is all about.

“We are truly grateful to all of our partners for working with us to provide this potentially lifesaving training to park staff and volunteers as well as school assemblies that educate young people on how to safely enjoy shoreline environments.

Sarah Litt, Community Safety Team Leader at CDDFRS, said: “It’s important to know what to do in an emergency, it’s important to act quickly because although the water looks inviting from the surface, it’s still cold enough to cause a cold water shock, not to mention the dangers lurking below that you can’t see from the surface.

The fire department urges parents never to let their children go near water without adult supervision and advises youngsters never to jump or suddenly immerse themselves in cold water as shock could kill.

Any warning signs present should be followed and, in an emergency, help should be called verbally as well as using the emergency number 999 and then asking for the fire and rescue service.

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