Date: 20th March, 2018
The actions of Christchurch firefighters in rescuing four people from the swollen River Stour on Saturday (17 March) have been praised.
Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service was first on the scene to assist the group of rowers who had ended up in the freezing cold water. Two rowing boats and a safety boat capsized, with eleven people – mostly teenaged girls – affected.
Two crews from Christchurch were at Iford Bridge within minutes of the 999 call being received, with water rescue teams from Poole and Weymouth also mobilised.
Craig Baker, Area Manager for Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset, said: “This was an extremely challenging incident for all of the agencies involved, as we had to be completely sure that we had accounted for everyone who had been on one of the affected boats. There was also very fast-moving water, and extremely cold temperatures. Our firefighters helped four people from the river using throw lines and then worked with Dorset Police and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency to complete a search of the river and its banks. It was a good hour before we could stand down, knowing that four people had been rescued and seven had got themselves out of the water safely.”
Mr Baker added: “Without such a rapid intervention, this incident could have had a far different ending, as those in the water were already fatigued by the effects of the cold. Our crews have the right equipment and training to be able to carry out such a rescue effectively, especially in such dangerous conditions, and they did so with extreme professionalism.”