HWFRS topped the list for highest number of water rescues nationally

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In 2020, partly because of the extensive flooding in the early part of the year, Hereford & Worcester had the highest number of water rescue incidents of any fire and rescue service in the country.

The total of 175 accounted for more than 10 per cent – actually 10.34 per cent – of all incidents nationally.

Of these incidents, six resulted in a fatality, nine victims went to hospital with injuries appearing to be serious, six went to hospital with injuries appearing to be slight and one resulted in first aid being given at the scene.

The ages of those involved spread right across the board with seven aged 10 or under, nine aged from 11-20, 14 from 21-30, 15 from 31-40, 18 from 41-50, 14 from 51-60 and 19 were 60 plus.

Sixty four of the incidents involved a car, 19 involved a van and two a lorry or HGV. And 61 of these involved a person in or on top of a vehicle surrounded by moving or rising water more than two feet deep.

Fifty incidents involved a river, canal, lake, pond or reservoir and 29 were home rescues.

Thirty incidents were within the Worcester fire ground, 24 in Hereford, 13 both in Wyre Forest and Leintwardine and 10 in Pershore.

Fire service advice includes:

  • never swim alone in case you need help.
  • don’t drink alcohol when undertaking water-related activities, it impairs judgement and your ability to swim.
  • avoid walking routes near water if you have been drinking alcohol.
  • don’t dive or jump straight into open water, this can cause potentially fatal cold water shock even on the warmest day.
  • actively supervise children in and around water – drowning can happen fast and silently.
  • if you find yourself unexpectedly in the water, don’t panic, extend your arms and legs out and float on your back until the effects of cold water shock pass.
  • never enter the water to try and rescue someone, call 999 and ask for the Fire Service if inland and the Coastguard if you are at the coast.
  • never drive into flood water