HART at Olympic facility
Crews from South East Coast Ambulance Service
NHS Foundation Trust (SECAmb) were given a choppy introduction on
how to rescue and treat casualties at inland water incidents during
exercises at a 2012 Olympic facility.
Specialist medics from SECAmb’s Hazardous Area
Response Team (HART) units, based in Ashford and Gatwick, underwent
training at Lee Valley White Water Centre, Hertfordshire, a
purpose-built facility hosting Olympic slalom canoeing and kayaking
events this summer.
Teams were taught how negotiate fast water to
reach a casualty, bank based rescues, search techniques and
self-rescue in strong currents. The three-day course from March 7-9
followed two days’ training in West Sussex on the River Adur
learning safe river crossings, working in boats and multi-agency
SECAmb’s HART Training Manager, Simon Morton,
said: “The exercises were designed to enable our crews to operate
safely in and around swift water.
“They learn defensive and offensive swimming
techniques so they can use the current, locate and treat patients,
then convey them to safety, teaming up with other emergency
The Swift Water Rescue Technician course,
taught by West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service instructors, exceeds
the government’s national HART standards set by Defra. It gives
medics practical skills in dealing with isolated inland water
incidents as well as at scenes of flooding, where operations are
often multi-agency and rescues are technically challenging.
HART teams are equipped to deal with a wide
range of other incidents from chemical leaks, urban search and
rescue incidents, safe working at height and multi-vehicle road
Clinicians receive intensive training
including the use of breathing apparatus and limited life gas-tight
chemical suits to facilitate entry into hazardous areas, providing
treatment to patients earlier, thus improving clinical outcome. In
addition to urban search and rescue, how to operate safely at
height and around water, HART are working towards forming the
ambulance service’s maritime incident response team (AMIRT).
Specialist vehicles include off road 4x4 and
urban search and rescue vehicles as well as a state-of-the-art
When not responding to HART calls, teams will
provide operational support to the Trust’s 999 fleet with two
Single Response Vehicles and a frontline ambulance.
In February SECAmb received planning approval
for a second HART base in Gatwick to provide facilities for 42
specially trained staff, along with vehicles and equipment designed
to respond to incidents where casualties are in hazardous
The Trust is currently recruiting a paramedic
to join its HART team at Ashford. Register at http://www.jobs.nhs.uk/ and then look
up reference: 278-HART-ASH-PAR-0711-HR. Closing date 22 March