Fire and Police are “working better together” to rescue vulnerable people who threaten to jump from bridges or high buildings in a training initiative launched by Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service.
Firefighters skilled in rope rescues can quickly ensure trained police negotiators are hooked up so that they safely talk to a person in distress.
They will also be on hand to rescue the person who may be in a precarious position on a high ledge or at the top of a tower block.
Firefighters from Shropshire and neighbouring Hereford and Worcester joined police from West Mercia and Warwickshire at the first of a series of training sessions at Ironbridge Power Station in Telford to replicate rescues from a bridge over the River Severn and at the top of a high factory walkway.
Group Commander Shaun Baker, based at Telford fire station, came up with the idea to use their joint skills and equipment in 2016 to help police in such situations after a series of incidents in which police had to wait for line safety equipment to arrive at a scene.
Hereford and Worcester firefighters, based at the police HQ in Worcester, have been working together with police on such rescues since the joint initiative was launched two years ago, added Shaun, who organised the first Shropshire training event.
“Every fire appliance has the necessary equipment on board and our firefighters are skilled in using it but not every police officer has line safety kit. It means we can get it to wherever it is needed a lot quicker.
“We can provide a safe system for police to work in while they use their skills to talk to and hopefully comfort a person in distress. We can also bring the person to safety to prevent further harm from happening to them.
“It means that both emergency services are working better together.”
Head of Force Operations, Paul Moxley said: “It is incredibly valuable for us to have the support of the fire and rescue service to make sure we can work at heights safely when we need to.
“Our Police Negotiators regularly speak to vulnerable people who may be in high places, where there may be a risk of falling. Our priority is ensuring the safety of all when responding to crisis incidents and this gives us the flexibility to be able to work at height in what can often be the most demanding of situations.”
Uniper’s Ironbridge Power Station Closure Manager, Ian Lacey, said: “We already make our site available for police, firearms and dog training, so it’s great to be able to extend this help to the regional fire and rescue services.”