Lifesaving Club – May 2011 report

A number of years ago two of our members were out having a walk along the Rochdale canal with their Mum and Dad. The two girls were on their pedal bikes and the parents were enjoying the beautiful warm weather. Because the girls were on their bikes they rode quite a way from their parents without realising it.

Everything was fine until quite by accident the youngest, (age 8), rode into the canal on her bike. No one knows exactly what happened, the sister raised the alarm but the parents were quite some way away. Dad ran to where she had gone in only to see her climbing out herself, she was crying. When they could make sense of why she was crying, they found out that it was because her bike was still in the canal and not because she had nearly drowned nor that she was wet through.

Their dad came into the club that Monday evening and said that the money he pays for subs is well worth it as if the two girls hadn’t been members at the Broadway and Failsworth Lifesaving Club the outcome could have been seriously different and he vowed to bring the girls every week.

Those two girls come every week and are progressing through the club, as soon as they are 16 they will start their NPLQ (National Pool Lifeguard Qualification) and, if they want to, the NBLQ (National Beach Lifeguard Qualification).

May is the month in the year that the Broadway and Failsworth Lifesaving Club start its Open Water Program for the year.

Open Water – what is meant by this? Quite simply there are two types of open water, coastal and inland.

We use the facilities of an Outdoor Pursuits Center for the Inland and for Coastal we use Fleetwood, near to the swimming pool on the sea front and we pay to use the facilities to shower and change a both venues.

We use the Reservoir and the Sea to train our members to save lives in open water situations. We also train them to ‘not go there’ if the situation is dangerous. An example of this would be if someone jumped into the reservoir in the hottest of summers the chill factor of the reservoir as it goes deeper has seen many people drown.

Very basically we use scenarios and exercises to train our members in the various ways of saving a life or preventing an accident from happening.

There is a story from a couple of years ago about a family and their dog (by the way, not one of our members) walking along the promenade at Blackpool, the sea was in and it was quite rough.  The dog was swept away as it was too near the edge and the owner jumped into the sea to rescue the dog. The dog managed to get out by itself but the owner was swept away and turned up down the coast a couple of days later. This is the reality of open water and the undercurrents that cannot be seen. From Blackpool to Fleetwood to the river, that brings in the Ferry from Ireland, is a very strong rip tide that can’t be seen by the untrained eye. We train our members to spot and feel all the dangers of Open Water.

If you live locally (Chadderton, Oldham) and you have young children surgically remove their games console and bring them down one Monday or Wednesday evening to see what it is all about.


Elaine Ratcliffe   

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