Calves rescued from canal
Two crews from Kidderminster and the water rescue team from Worcester attended, arriving to find that two calves had somehow escaped from the field they were in and had either fallen or scrambled down a steep bank, ending up in the canal. They had managed to climb out of the water on to a flat ledge, but the bank they were next to was too steep for them to clamber to safety themselves.
Rescue crews set up at three locations, one in the field at the top of the bank with the farmer, and two at bridges situated about a mile apart along the canal. A pincer technique was then used to locate the animals, with four specially trained water technicians wading, chest-height, through the water to reach the stranded calves. Three of the crew stayed in the water to create a barrier while the fourth member of the team climbed out on to the ledge and encouraged the animals to move along the bank to a gentler slope where they could make their own way back to the field.
The calves were rescued by 7.20pm, cold but otherwise unharmed by their ordeal.
Station Commander Ian Jallands from HWFRS explained: "We understand that the cows and calves had only just moved to this field, and initial reports suggested that there were four animals in difficulty near the water. Thankfully the other two had returned to the field under their own steam and we were able to bring the stranded calves to safety within a couple of hours.
"This was an excellent test of our water rescue procedures but by no means straightforward, due to the limited access to the canal and the dark conditions."
He explained that all three levels of the Fire Service's water rescue responders participated in this incident. This included the regular crew who have basic water training and can wear life jackets to assist with bank-side rescues; the Water First Responders, a specially trained water crew who wear dry-suit kit and are equipped to carry out bank rescues and wade in still water; and also, the Water Rescue Technicians, who can launch the rescue boat and are trained for swim rescues and rescues in flowing water.
The rescued calves and the other calves and cows in the field have since been moved to a new location while the perimeter fencing near the canal bank is checked.