Rescue expert to teach new skills to African firefighters

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FIREFIGHTERS in Ghana whose methods of rescuing casualties from car crashes include ad-hoc amputations at the scene are to be taught alternative methods by a Yorkshire specialist.

Steve North was today flying to the country’s capital Accra, where he will be sharing his experience in road traffic collision (RTC) rescue with the country’s fire crews.

Mr North, who is based at Dearne fire station, is part of a World Rescue Organisation (WRO) team spending two weeks working with the firefighters.

He is one of the UK’s leading specialists in RTC rescue, is an assessor for the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation (UKRO) and also visited Ghana in 2008 to teach rescue techniques to firefighters.

The 50-year-old said his previous visit to Ghana proved invaluable to crews there, whose rudimentary tactics led to victims rarely escaping unscathed.

He added: “I regularly get emails from the firefighters in Ghana telling me how they’ve saved the life of a car crash victim so it’s extremely rewarding to know that the skills we have taught them are making a difference.

“It was a real eye-opener when I first visited in 2008. I discovered that quite often their method of freeing someone trapped inside a vehicle was to chop off their limbs with a hatchet.

“Obviously things have improved since then thanks to our training programmes and some kit and equipment donations, so this trip will help them build on these improvements.”

The training trip is part of the International Development Programme (IDP) and will see Mr North teaching extrication techniques to training staff.