It can be a bit damp…
Essex SAR has had a number of trained and accredited Flood First Responders for several years, and they were on standby with Essex Fire & Rescue and Essex Police during the “tidal surge” of December 2013. Early 2014 saw them respond as Flood First Responders as part of the national response to the floods in Surrey.
The unit developed further in 2015, after a pilot operation with Essex Police. This initial pilot involved searching for a missing person in waterways and ponds in Southend.
The pilot was a success, and the Water Unit now has several members trained to the higher level of Swift Water Technicians. The Unit is available to Essex Police to search inland waterways at any time, and was deployed during the search for missing person Gordon Wilson in 2016. The team was also deployed as part of a multi agency response during the storm surge event around the Essex coastline in January 2017.
Water equipment such as dry-suits and specialist boots and gloves is expensive, and as well as our own efforts to raise funds for this purpose, we were grateful to The Lions Clubs of Billericay & Leigh-on-Sea for their invaluable donations that enabled us to kick start this critical service.
In 2019, a project was put in place to further equip the water team with canoes to assist in the searching of water features for missing people. We are extremely grateful to the Chelmsford Round Table for funding this project, and all the necessary equipment was purchased in Autumn 2019. Training is in hand and we expect this capability to be operational from early 2020.