Woman rescued from River Nene, Wisbech, yards from where fire crews had trained to use new sled

FIREFIGHTERS put extensive training with a new rescue sled to good use when they pulled a woman from the River Nene - just yards from their practice site.

The dramatic rescue happened mid-afternoon on Saturday April 7 when fire crews from across Cambridgeshire responded to an emergency call about someone being in the River Nene in Wisbech.

Crews used a new inflatable rescue sled to rescue the woman from the water, near Horseshoe Terrace and West Parade.

Phil Pilbeam, watch commander at Wisbech Fire Station, said: “The rescue sled is a new piece of equipment which allows us to easily rescue people in difficult conditions such as water ice and mud.

“Wisbech crews have been training extensively with the equipment at a number of locations, including near the site of this rescue.”


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Two crews from Wisbech, one crew from Huntingdon and another crew from Dogsthorpe - plus a rescue vehicle - were dispatched to the River Nene in Wisbech.

It took less than 10 minutes to rescue the woman, using the sled.

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Mr Pilbeam said: “This was a very difficult incident because of the extremely muddy conditions on the river bank.

“When we arrived the casualty was at the edge of the water but the conditions meant she could not be easily rescued from the water.

“Firefighters wearing in-water gear quickly went into the river to make sure the casualty did not drift further away from the bank, while the rest of the crew made use of the inflatable rescue sled. The sled was attached to safety tethers and lowered around 30 metres down the steep mud bank to the casualty.

“Firefighters were then able to get the casualty onto the sled before firefighters and police carried the sled, which can also be used as a stretcher, about half a mile to the nearest access point where an ambulance was waiting.

“It is vital that everyone works together quickly but safely at these incidents and everyone involved did an excellent job, rescuing the casualty within 10 minutes.”

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