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Firefighting course for young people with Down’s Syndrome


Date: 10th August, 2016

Young people with Down’s syndrome are again working with Swindon firefighters to develop their skills.

A group of 16 people aged from 12 to 26 – all members of the Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group – are spending this week with Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service to experience a basic fire and rescue training course.

Known as Salamander, the programme encourages participants to work as a team while building up confidence and self-esteem – it involves firefighting skills with hose, pumping appliances and hydrants, abseiling, ladder climbing, search and rescue, casualty care, road traffic collision rescue skills and water rescue.

At the end of the course, which is being held at Drove Road fire station, the group will put on a display of their new skills for family, friends and senior Fire & Rescue Service officers.

Watch Manager Mark Evans, who organises the course, said this was the eighth time Salamander had been run in Swindon for people with Down’s Syndrome. “The programme is usually aimed at young people who need a steer in life and we use the sessions to highlight the consequences of certain behaviours. With this group, we focus on self-esteem and teamwork, allowing the young people to learn new skills and then work with others to achieve their aims.”

He added: “The previous courses we’ve run have been incredibly successful for the young people involved but they have also been really rewarding for the instructors and helpers. The changes we see as the week goes on are amazing and the feedback we get from the parents is always humbling. So many of them just cannot believe what their children have achieved and the joy this brings them is wonderful.”

Although Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service runs the course, firefighters work in collaboration with the other emergency services to ensure that a beneficial and rewarding course is delivered to the young people.

Two police community support officers (PCSOs) represent Wiltshire Police and an operational advanced ambulance practitioner represents South Western Ambulance Service.

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