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Risk management planning for water rescue

Risk management plans should consider the foreseeable water-related hazards and events that may result in the need for a water rescue. The community risk profile, along with knowledge of local infrastructure that includes bodies of water should inform risk management planning for water rescue. This should include the identification of sites where people are likely to require being rescued from water.

Water risks should be considered as part of overall risk management planning and consider the foreseeable hazards associated with water rescue. The community risk profile, along with knowledge of local infrastructure that includes bodies of water, should inform risk management planning for water rescue. Community risk profiles provided by responsible bodies will further help to develop risk management plans.

The National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) has a water incident dashboard to help fire and rescue services gather information on incidents in their area. It uses live data from the Water Incident Database (WAID), which records vital information from agencies such as the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA).

The aim of the dashboard is to help fire and rescue services search for and gather information relating to their area to help with risk management planning.

The impacts of climate change, which includes an increase in rainfall, should be considered in risk management planning for water rescue. It may result in unexpected or unpredictable bodies of water that present hazards.

Water may present a hazard to people through them:

  • Using bodies of water, such as:
    • Lakes
    • Rivers and streams
    • Reservoirs
    • Canals
    • Ponds
    • Swimming pools
    • Tidal pools
    • Those created by heavy rainfall, for example, water in disused quarries
  • Entering a body of water, such as those:
    • In unlit areas
    • Near to uneven ground, footpaths or cycle paths
    • In parks or playgrounds
    • Near to public houses or nightclubs
  • Entering a body of water while in a road vehicle

For information about flood planning refer to Geophysical hazards.

During the risk management planning for water rescue, it should be recognised that most incidents of this nature will require a multi-agency response. Joint training and exercises with other responder agencies should improve the understanding of water search and rescue resources and capabilities. Pre-planning should also consider preferred methods of communication and reinforce use of the JESIP principles for all multi-agency incidents.


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