Wall walking with a difference

Behind a climbing wall or inside a swimming pool pipe don’t sound like the usual training spaces

But fully kitted out with state of the art equipment, it’s the perfect simulation for one of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service’s (TWFRS) unique specialist teams.

Their Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team work closely with local businesses to make sure their training covers all bases.

When they get called out, the incidents are normally large scale accidents where people need rescuing but are difficult to reach.

That could include injured casualties stuck at height or below ground, buried underneath rubble or trapped in a confined space.

Over the past two weeks, they’ve been using their imagination to train at a number of local business premises, to hone those skills that keep you safe.

On a visit to Sunderland Climbing Wall, the team took the scenic route to the top of the wall – by climbing the side WITHOUT any grapples!

Dodging steel structures and working at height, the team had to bring a “casualty” to safety in the extreme heat whilst wearing full kit.

A few days later, the team took a trip over to Tynemouth Swimming Pool but they weren’t getting into the water.

They headed to work in their pipe room to practice rescues in confined spaces in full kit – not an easy task in a heatwave.

And today (Tuesday), one of TWFRS’s senior ranking officers, is praising his team for their creative thinking.

Group Manager Ian Robinson, Head of Risk and Resilience, said “Using a variety of different training facilities that ordinarily you wouldn’t think were suitable, provides our highly trained team with the realistic challenges they need, to keep their skills razor sharp.

“We work with local businesses to create training environments with a difference, which force our team to think on their feet and solve problems quickly and safely.

“When the team are working in these incredibly difficult situations, it makes you very proud to see what they are capable of.

“The USAR team never know the type of situation they might face, so they are trained to be creative, adaptable, problem solvers who leave no stone unturned when trying to get people to safety.”