Seven water safety boards have been installed at areas of open water in Bedford Borough, thanks to a partnership with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue, Bedford Borough Council and Bedfordshire Police.
Since 2013 there have been 20 accidental drowning deaths in Bedfordshire, many of which have been due to people falling into the water or getting into difficulties when swimming.
The water safety boards hold information and equipment designed to give anyone in the water help before the emergency services can attend.
The equipment attached to the board gives anyone on the banks of the river the chance to reach the person in trouble without entering the water themselves.
There are seven boards in Bedford Borough, four in Bedford, two in Wixams and one in Harrold, and three different types:
- Throw bag: contains a float and line to help someone gain buoyancy and be pulled to safety
- Reach pole: to reach someone in trouble and pull them to safety
- Dual throw bag and reach pole: both the above combined
Like defibrillators, the rescue equipment is kept in locked cabinets with the code to access the equipment given to the caller when they make a 999 emergency call.
David Lynch, BFRS Area Community Safety Officer, said: “This rescue equipment enables people to help save someone in trouble in the water without putting themselves at risk.
“We are pleased to work with colleagues to get these rescue boards in place and look forward to their successful use to save lives.”
Bedfordshire Police Superintendent Nick Lyall added: “Tragically, we have experienced a number of incidents in which people have lost their lives while enjoying Bedfordshire’s outdoor spaces…
“The availability of such equipment will help members of the public to safely offer aid to those who need it, and hopefully prevent serious injury or loss of life.”