A WEARSIDE lifeboatman is preparing to take part in a major training exercise on the second anniversary of the Cumbrian floods.
Twenty RNLI crews from across the north of England will use facilities at the Tees Barrage International White Water Centre, in Stockton, to test their inland flooding rescue skills.
Lifeboat volunteers rescued more than 200 people when floods struck Cockermouth in November 2009.
Anthony Jobling, from Sunderland RNLI, will be one of those taking part in the training.
“Being a part of the national and regional flood rescue teams requires some very specialist skills and is very different from operating our lifeboats in Sunderland,” he said.
“Inland flooding brings a host of dangers not faced on the coast. When a street turns into a river, we need to be prepared and trained to deal with these dangers and conditions in order to rescue people.”
The Tees Barrage exercise involves rescue scenarios such as freeing casualties trapped in submerged vehicles as well as sessions to help teams improve swift water swimming and rope rescues.
Anthony (left), from Roker, said: “The weekend gives the team the opportunity to train in a realistic environment and ensure that, should the call come, we are able to deploy quickly with equipped and fully trained members.”
Sarah Nimmo-Scott, leader of the RNLI’s north flood rescue team, said the two weekend exercises this month will help ensure RNLI volunteers are fully prepared for any future disasters.
“I know those of us involved in that rescue operation two years ago will remember the severity of the situation we faced and the difficulty of some of the rescues,” she said.
“It will definitely help focus our minds on why training exercises like this are so important.
“Rescuing casualties from buildings or vehicles in fast flowing water requires specialist knowledge as well as experience.
“The conditions, challenges and hazards we encounter in flood water are very different to those faced by lifeboat crews at sea and so members of the Flood Rescue Team undertake extra training on top of the regular commitment they make.”