New rescue equipment to help get people out of trouble in Bedfordshire’s waterways Image: Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service working with partners to install rescue equipment in high-risk areas

Since 2013, there have been over 20 incidents recorded as accidental drowning across Bedfordshire. These incidents involved people who got into trouble in the county’s waters, either by accidentally falling into the water or by getting into difficulties when swimming.

David Lynch, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service area community safety officer, said:

“In many cases people put themselves at risk when trying to save someone from drowning. This rescue equipment enables people to help save someone in trouble in the water without putting themselves at risk.

“We are pleased to work with colleagues to get these rescue boards in place and look forward to their successful use to save lives.”

The rescue equipment is attached to water safety boards in 12 locations across Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton.

It is kept in locked cabinets that can only be opened by a code obtained from the fire service. The code to unlock is given to a caller making a 999 call after they give the location of that board.

The boards come in three styles;

  1. Throw bag only – containing a float and line to help someone gain buoyancy and be pulled to safety
  2. Dual throw bag and reach pole – with the addition of an extendible pole to reach someone in trouble and pull them to safety
  3. Reach pole only

Each board has instructions on how to access and use the equipment and advice can be given by calling 999 and asking for the fire service.

(left to right) David Lynch (Area Community Safety Officer) Shezad Ahmed (PCSO Community Cohesion), Lara Curtayne (Crime Reduction Officer Beds Police), James Lynch (Team Leader Open Spaces, Infrastructure & Community Engagement Bedford Borough Council) Image: Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service

The boards will be placed in:

4x Bedford

1x Harrold

2x Wixams

1x Sandy

2x Biggleswade
1x Leighton Buzzard
1x Luton

Bedfordshire Police Superintendent Nick Lyall said:

“Tragically, we have experienced a number of incidents in which people have lost their lives while enjoying Bedfordshire’s outdoor spaces.

“Whenever such a terrible incident occurs, we work in close partnership with our colleagues in the fire service to do our very best to assist those in distress. However, the availability of such equipment will help members of the public to safely offer aid to those who need it, and hopefully prevent serious injury or loss of life.

“We would still always advise residents to never be tempted to enter rivers or open water, but are pleased to announce this important development in partnership with BFRS.”