Potentially life-saving training has been delivered to staff and volunteers at a County Durham park.
Throw-line training has been given to those who work or volunteer at Durham County Council’s Riverside Park at Chester-le-Street.
The training came about following the formation of a water safety group in Chester-le-Street in response to an incident last year in which a young child had to be rescued from the River Wear which runs through the park.
Teams from Durham County Council, including its Chester-le-Street Area Action Partnership, joined forces with a number of partners to set up the group. These were County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service (CDDFRS); Durham Constabulary; and water safety campaigner Fiona Gosling, from Crook, whose son Cameron died from cold water shock after jumping into the River Wear near Bishop Auckland in 2015.
The group arranged for fire and rescue service staff to give a free demonstration of how to use their throw ropes in the river, for park workers and volunteers. This was to assist those working in the park should they ever be required to use the buoyancy aids located along the riverbanks.
In addition to the training, the group also designed a meeting point sign for park users should children get separated, complete with emergency numbers if needed. This has since been installed by management of the park.
The group has also been organising assemblies in Chester-le-Street schools, featuring Mrs Gosling. These are being targeted at the schools closest to Riverside Park in order to educate children and young people of the dangers of swimming in the river.
Cllr John Shuttleworth, Cabinet member for community safety, said: “Riverside Park is a great place for people of all ages to come to enjoy themselves and we very much want that to continue.
“Incidents like the one last year are few and far between here but continuing to ensure those who visit this riverside environment do so in a safe fashion is of paramount importance to us. That is what the work we have been doing with the fire service, police and Fiona, is all about.
“We are really grateful to all our partners for working with us to deliver this potentially life-saving training to staff and volunteers at the park; as well as the school assemblies which equip young people with awareness of how to enjoy riverside settings safely.”
Sarah Litt, community safety team leader at CDDFRS, said: “Knowing what to do in an emergency is important, it’s important to act fast as although the water looks inviting from the surface, it is still cold enough to induce cold water shock, not to mention the dangers lurking beneath that you cannot see from the surface.”