Last Friday (2nd August 2019), news broke of the ruptured dam at Whaley Bridge. This was particularly significant for one of our Trainee Solicitors, Nikki Ealey.
Nikki is a Swiftwater Rescue Technician and volunteers for a charity called Hertfordshire Boat Rescue, an organisation that specialises in flood rescue. They primarily work and train in and around Hertfordshire, providing water rescue cover at local planned events as well as providing specialist search, rescue and recovery services, but this is only part of what they do. The organisation is also on the DEFRA (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs) National Asset Register meaning they can be called out to a flood incident anywhere in the UK. Their teams are made up entirely of volunteers who are on call 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
The organisation received a call-out on Friday evening. A highly-skilled and well-equipped team of eight was mustered and travelled up to Derbyshire early on Saturday morning for the start of a three-day deployment.
Nikki commented: ‘The operation was huge, many rescue teams were called in from all over the country. The teams based in Derbyshire were largely focused at the dam site which could potentially have left the rest of the county exposed, with water-related incidents occurring and no emergency services available to attend. Our team was posted at a retained fire station in Chapel-en-le-Frith with two key roles. Firstly, we rotated in eight-hour shifts with another water rescue team, being on standby to respond to any water-related incidents in the county. Secondly, if the dam had breached, we were close to the dam site and could be called in for emergency assistance.’
Although the situation could have been catastrophic, the dam did not breach and their time at Chapel-en-le-Frith passed without incident. By 1pm on Monday afternoon, the critical phase of the incident had passed and the National Fire Chiefs’ Council who were coordinating the operation decided that their team, along with many others, could stand down a few hours early and return home.
‘The team is immensely proud of their efforts’ said Nikki. ‘It was very rewarding to see the incredible community spirit and it was clear that the success behind the operation came down to the support from the community as a whole.’
Herts Boat Rescue is always looking for volunteers to get involved. If you are interested please visit http://www.hertsboatrescue.org.uk or the charity’s social media (Facebook: HertfordshireBoatRescue | Twitter: @hertsboatrescue).