The BLDSA and its officials recently had a training weekend to improve safety at our events, which we did in collaboration with the RNLI Holyhead lifeboat station. We’ve been really fortunate in the last 2 years, gaining 4 new swim secretaries and new members on the committee getting involved with the organisation of our swims. The BLDSA therefore felt it would be a fantastic opportunity to get everyone on the same page and gain new skills & methods from the experts of search & rescue, the RNLI.
Janet guiding Richard and Caroline on how to use a defibrillator with CPR.
Janet really highlights the huge skill set the BLDSA has in terms of its members and provided all of our new and long serving officials with vital skills for supporting our swimming events.
The weekend also had a focus on how to manage an operational response to an emergency and what happens when we’re faced with the hard decision of abandoning a swim. Abandoning a swim is logistically hard and officials are faced with dealing with how to get swimmers safely out of the water part way through a swim (often in remote locations), when they’re very likely to be cold and with wind chill, at risk of hypothermia. Chris Hickling on a windswept beach near Holyhead guided everyone through a series of scenarios designed to test and improve how we deal with a swim abandonment and how to deal with people in emergency situations.
Chris also included various scenarios on how to deal with finding someone who had collapsed without participants knowing the cause and assessing symptoms of blocked airways, a person being very cold and confused, chest pains and many others in a remote environment. Chris was also assisted by his fantastic team of casualties, who deserve oscars for their acting skills, not falling out of character and for being so convincing!
Richard Hardy, our safety officer, in the evening guided everyone through the various parts of organising events, making sure that all officials were clear on the roles and their importance at our events. Richard has built up many years of experience handling the BLDSA’s insurance and administration of our safety documents. Richard provided everyone with excellent advice on good practise and avoiding the various pit falls around organising events – invaluable to the new swim secretaries that attended and reinforcing the knowledge of more experienced swim secretaries.
And this was only Saturday!
Sunday – was split into the boat crews and those completing the first aid qualification.
Our boat crews went over to RNLI Holyhead to be taught methods the lifeboat uses for search and rescue operation, handling rough weather, casualty care on the the boat and getting casualties on off the safety boats. The BLDSA is extremely grateful to Nigel Dennis, Beth Wilkinson and the crew at the station still be able to deliver after the hell they’ve been put through with the recent storms – Storm Emma smashes boats at Holyhead marina, Anglesey – where people lost boats and some their livelihoods. Unfortunately we weren’t able to launch our safety boats in the marina due gale force winds, but it is too the testament of the crew at Holyhead the weekend was still able to take place.
While all of this was going on at the lifeboat station, Janet was guiding our new recruits through the art of bandages and how best to deal with large bleeds, fractures and head injuries – completing the first aid qualification.
We’re hoping this will become an annual training weekend before the start of the season and plans are already being worked out for another weekend with our safety crews and the lifeboat station when the weather’s a little more forgiving. Well done to all involved and a thoroughly enjoyable weekend with the hard working volunteers of the BLDSA!