The water team try and meet once a month on a Saturday for specialised water rescue training. Last Saturdays aim was to practice using some of the equipment that we have. We actually stayed out of the water for this session and located some steep ground around Plymbridge woods where we all picked a tree in pairs to use as an anchor.
Knots are an integral part of being a water team member and we are expected to know the basic types, for example bowline and cloves hitch are two of the most common. Once we had rigged a rope around the tree it was connected to a carabiner that is on our PFD (Personal flotation device) and then we were able to lower ourselves down the hill using a pulley system controlling how fast we were able to descent and locking off if we wanted to stop. We then did the same exercise but used an ID device. This bit of kit has a handle that allows comfortable descent control and can be locked off instantly if needed.
After getting to grips with the ID we then put our life in the hands of our partner and allowed them to belay us down the hill and vice versa.
Not only would be need to belay a team member in the event of an emergency we would need to belay a stretcher down to the casualty and up again. The next exercise was just, this using several different techniques and several different anchor points as we may not have the luxury of having a solid anchor point. A human anchor was used and the team on the stretcher were advised to simulate a fall back down the hill which could potentially happen. Apologies to our human anchor John who now needs to buy new shorts…
It was a very valuable and interesting training session for the team, and we look forward to next month’s water training.