AF&RS deliver water safety training to nightclub staff

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) visited nightclub staff to deliver a water safety awareness course.

The course, which consists of a presentation and a practical session, is aimed at door supervisors, managers and staff at clubs, bars and pubs around the dock area.

AF&RS has attended nine water-related fatalities in Bristol since 2017 and the course focuses on raising awareness, the hazards around the docks and the effects of cold water on a casualty.

Delivered by Green Watch from Bedminster fire station to staff at Thekla in Bristol, the practical session involved throw line training from the river bank to secure a casualty in the water.

Staff were given the opportunity to practice on real-life 'casualties' - a firefighter in a dry suit - to develop their skills and know how to act in an emergency situation.

Overall, the Service has been called to 168 water-related incidents since 2017, and the training of staff can ensure a casualty quicker is rescued quicker and reduces risk.

Fred Le Ouedec, water technician and firefighter at Bedminster fire station, said: “In situations like this, minutes really do make a difference.

“Cold incapacitation can take effect from just five minutes, with casualties either getting swept away or going below the water.

“Having staff in the area who are trained to assist really can make all the difference.

“We know that drowning is the third highest cause of unintentional death worldwide and that nearly half of all fatalities have no intention of entering the water, and this is something we will always try to raise awareness of and combat.

“We are aiming to reduce river deaths by 50 per cent over the coming years and training like this supports staff in their ability to secure people in the water quickly and help to get them out where possible.

“As a Service, we would love to work with other staff in the area and encourage anyone to get in touch.”

Currently, staff at two bars on the waterfront have gone through the training and AF&RS will be contacting all the main clubs and bar to offer the training. 

The Service will also offer ‘grab bags’ for each establishment so they have the basic essential equipment. 

Alex Black, Thekla General Manager, added: "All licenced premises have a duty of care towards their customers and we feel that for venues situated near bodies of water, water safety should play a part in this. 

"In the unlikely event that someone does enter the water; seconds count. Even a small amount of knowledge can be a huge help before the emergency services arrive and could even save a life."

Key points for assisting a casualty in the water:

  • Call 999 immediately
  • Never work alone
  • Once located, never lose sight of a casualty
  • Never count on a casualty to help in their own rescue
  • Never tie a rope around a rescuer
  • Do not enter the water