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by the NFCC


This section of National Operational Guidance sets out the hazard knowledge and control measures that should be considered for the rescue and care of casualties in water. The aim is to integrate the knowledge, understanding and actions required to support the appropriate, safe and efficient resolution of any incident involving rescues from water. Personnel should be made aware of the hazards that exist when responding to a rescue from water. They should also understand how their actions may impact on the environment and other emergency responders. This guidance should be read in conjunction with:

Where applicable, the following document may be considered for water rescue:


To clarify the position of a casualty or object in relation to the water, the following terminology is used:

  • Underwater or submerged (also referred to as subsurface by other agencies) - A state where a person’s airway is compromised due to their physical position in the water, usually due to their head being under the surface of the water
  • In the water - A situation where a person is partially submerged, with their head above the surface of the water
  • On the water - Where the person is in or on a vessel, such as a kayak or inflatable dinghy