Firefighters urging people to stop risking their lives in Cambridgeshire’s lakes and rivers
15:13 19 August 2014
People are being urged to stop putting their lives at risk in Cambridgeshire’s lakes and rivers.
In the past three years, eight people have died in water incidents in Cambridgeshire and the fire service has attended 51 water-related rescues.
This summer Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service has attended one fatal water incident – the death of Rony John in the River Ouse at Hartford – and a number of other water rescues, and officers are now urging the public to take great care when around water.
Chris Parker, Group Commander responsible for community prevention, said: “We have seen far too many tragic deaths in recent years which may have been avoidable if people would have taken better precautions when playing or socialising in or near water.
“We would never recommend people swim or play in rivers or lakes but instead exercise your swimming skills in pools or lidos. Likewise, if you are taking part in any water-based sport, please ensure you wear a life jacket.
“Rivers are fast flowing, cold and you do not know what rocks or other hazards lay beneath the surface. Please take simple steps to protect yourself, your family and friends in Cambridgeshire’s water spots.”
Firefighters regularly train near and in water to practise water rescues.
One area of concern is Cherry Hinton chalk pits, where young people have been jumping off the cliffs at the pits and landing on each other.
Jamie Johnson, Watch Commander of Cambridge’s blue watch, said: “Cherry Hinton is of particular concern to us because young people have been known to gather near the water and play in it without knowing what dangers lay beneath the surface.
“It is a private site so they are trespassing and it is not designed for swimming or diving into.
“Some parts of it are 40 feet deep but for us, what is most worrying is gaining access should there be an accident.
“Therefore, we teamed up with the site owners and our colleagues from the East of England Ambulance Service Trust’s hazardous area response team (HART) to run an exercise to practise our skills.”
Earlier this month, firefighters took part in a simulated water rescue of casualties from a capsized boat at Buckden Marina – 36 hours later, their skills were be called upon for real in a nearby waterway.
Jon Wade, Watch Commander of Huntingdon green watch, said: “This was a real life success and shows how vital realistic training can be to ensure crews are well rehearsed in these life saving techniques.
“The water in the region has recently claimed the lives of people but luckily on this occasion it was a successful outcome.”