Last week Cheshire SAR Team (CSAR) responded to a national call for help and declared themselves as an asset to assist with the flood response efforts in Surrey. A party of 7 qualified personnel, all trained as Bank Side Search Technicians, Flood First Responders and in Basic Trauma and Critical Care, were sent to the affected area on Friday. They took with them specialist flood rescue equipment, medical equipment and 4x4 vehicles.
The team spent the weekend working alongside the statutory emergency services and other volunteer teams, some of whom they work and train with regularly and others who they met for the first time.
Joining forces with colleagues from Norfolk Lowland Search and Rescue they split into two teams and were deployed to fire stations in Sunbury and Walton where they were stationed alongside teams from Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue, Surrey Fire and Rescue and the local HART (Hazardous Area Response Team) Paramedics.
One group then spent the day in the flooded suburban areas of Shepperton, carrying out welfare checks on vulnerable residents, while the second group were called out to search for an elderly gentleman who was missing from home. The search covered flooded pathways along the banks of the Thames and an area around some sluice gates.
Conditions were treacherous with responders reporting that moving just a few inches could result in a dramatic change in water depth, while they were unable to see what was beneath their feet – whether it was roadway, footpath, open manhole covers, river bank or river. For members of the public who don’t have the kind of training or equipment that CSAR rescuers rely on, it makes for an extremely dangerous environment.
During the weekend the team were also included high level planning discussions, both to implement the best strategy for using all available resources and future planning for this week and beyond.
Back in Cheshire, other members continued the never ending task of fundraising by bag packing at Morrison’s in Middlewich. Cheshire SAR Team receives no Government support and members have to raise in excess of £30,000 a year to enable the team to exist – something many shoppers didn’t realise and which seemed extremely poignant with the response team working hard in Surrey and following a call out to support a neighbouring Mountain Rescue team at 01.25 on Saturday morning. The team remains on standby to assist with the flooding as and when they are needed over the coming weeks and will soon be expanding their water rescue equipment to include an inflatable sled. The sled will be used to safely transport people, pets and belongings during evacuation of residential areas. If anyone would like to sponsor this essential piece of equipment, CSAR would welcome enquiries.
For more information about the team, please visit www.cheshire-sarteam.org.