A ST AUSTELL firefighter has just returned from the adventure of a lifetime, training with emergency services in North America.
After winning a Winston Churchill Travelling Fellowship, he Andy Reynolds went on a six week journey.
He tried his hand at flood and swiftwater rescue training and visited fire and sheriffs’ departments and volunteer rescue teams from California, Texas, North and South Carolina, New York and British Columbia.
My Reynolds said he chose this mission to learn from the North American teams that are currently leading the way in their approach to these types of events in rescue, planning, community involvement and education.
He hoped to bring these skills back to Cornwall, which has seen many large-scale flooding incidents in recent years.
As part of his Fellowship, Mr Reynolds qualified as a swiftwater powerboat and jet-ski operator, as well as taking part in helicopter aquatic rescue training and river rescue classes.
“Although my personal skills have increased dramatically, and I look forward to sharing that with colleagues, the thing that departments in the US were doing really well was joint working,” he said.
“Very few agencies outside of California had their own aircraft, but partnerships with National Guard and emergency medical air assets resulted in the deployment of skilled swiftwater and flood rescuers paired with highly experienced air crews.
“Several fire and emergency departments are also doing very valuable work building pre and post-incident community cohesion, to a point where anyone interested in helping out after a disaster can be involved in some way, having already received relevant safety input at a local fire station.”
He added: “The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Fellowship has afforded me an amazing opportunity to learn and experience such a vast amount, and sharing that knowledge to the benefit of all is the next phase of my fellowship.
“I urge anyone with a passion for what they do and learning new things to consider an application.”
Visit www.wcmt.org.uk for more details.
North Carolina Helicopter Aquatic Rescue Training Team (NCHART) training: