Emergency services hold major exercise to hone their response to floods

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THE emergency services’ response to flooding was put to the test yesterday.

Firefighters from Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, joined colleagues from West Yorkshire and the East Midlands, police and an RAF helicopter to rescue “casualties” from semi-submerged vehicles and buildings.

The event, part of Exercise Watermark, a national multi-agency exercise coordinated by Defra, took place at Ashby Ville pond, a former gravel pit in Scunthorpe.

Group manager Stuart Spence, from Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said: “A significant amount of investment has been made since 2007 in both equipment, communication infrastructure and training.

“It is hoped that this exercise will not only test the new arrangements but will also help to reassure the public that we are much better prepared than we have been in the past.”

Firefighters and East Midlands Ambulance Hazardous Area Response Team used boats, while the police used an underwater search team.

Casualties were “treated” at the scene by East Midlands Ambulance Service along with the British Red Cross, St John Ambulance and the Army.

When the floods hit in 2007 firefighters waded around in contaminated water for hours. Now Humberside Fire and Rescue Service has dry suits, dinghies and floating platforms and crews have been extensively trained in water rescue techniques.

They are also getting boats be based in Bridlington, Bransholme, Scunthorpe and Grimsby, and associated training, in case of flooding as a result of a North Sea surge.