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Dramatic river rescue staged on the Ouse
EMERGENCY services staged a dramatic river rescue in a training exercise on the River Ouse in York.
A crowd of curious onlookers gathered as the firefighters, police, and the West Yorkshire HART ambulance team got to work at the scene – just upstream from Clifton Bridge.
The exercise started at about 7pm as dusk was falling yesterday, and stretched for two hours into the night.
Watch manager Dave Ashman, of Clifford Street fire station, said: "The scenario was that drunk revellers on the party were fighting and some had fallen inro the river.
“The boat dare not move in case people were in the water around it, and the captain would let us know how many people were missing.
“We needed to make sure we got communications established between aircraft, police and fire crews.”
A YorkBoat vessel played the part of the stricken party boat, with revellers – played by the Ripon fire crews – on board.
A total of six fire engines from York, Acomb and Selby were on the scene as well as police from Fulford Road station and the West Yorkshire HART team – ambulance crews who can carry out water rescues.
Forty-five minutes after the action began, they were joined by an RAF Search & Rescue helicopter from RAF Leconfield. Mr Ashman said: “We have done exercises like this in the daytime before with a pleasure boat, but this was the first time at night with a party boat.
“This was a worst case scenario.”
A total of eight “casualties" were involved – two were found “dead” on the banks of the river, four fell into the river and had to be rescued by the firefighters and helicopter crews. Two climbed out of the river and were caught by police in the local area.
Mr Ashman said: “These exercises are valuable because it’s okay having a written plan, but it’s only when we do something like this that we know it if works. It will be a success if we learn something from this.”
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