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Emergency responders stage major flooding exercise in Bala


As the recent flooding events experienced in parts of Denbighshire proved,North Walesneeds to be prepared in the event of frequent downpours when there is an increased risk of communities being affected by flooding.

As part of flooding preparedness arrangements, emergency responders are getting ready to take part in a major flooding exercise tomorrow (Wednesday 10th April) which will put their collaboration skills to the test.

Representatives from the Wales Inland Water and Flood Rescue Group, including  all three Fire and Rescue Services in Wales, North Wales Police, the RNLI, RAF Search and Rescue, Natural Resources Wales, Gwynedd Council, Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust, the RSPCA, Severn Area Rescue Association, Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Automobile Association, and North Wales Mountain Rescue Association will take part in Exercise Berwyn by staging simulated flood rescues in challenging conditions around the Bala area in Gwynedd.

The aim of the exercise is to build on the success of a previous flooding exercise carried out last year (Exercise Gwyniad), to learn from recent flooding incidents and to test resilience.

Paul Claydon, Assistant Chief Fire Officer at North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, explains: "One in six properties inEnglandandWalesis at risk of flooding. It is only by working and practising together that we will be ready to protect people's lives, homes and livelihoods when flooding hits.

"The exercise in Bala will test our regional responses to severe flooding from rivers, the sea, reservoirs, groundwater and surface water in a range of scenarios which could occur during a flood emergency.

"Like many emergency responders, fire and rescue services are accustomed to dealing with floods which can have far reaching effects such as trapping people in their cars, threatening livestock and, at worst, threatening homes, livelihoods and even lives. The exercise in Bala is designed to put the combined skills, resources and equipment of all the emergency responders to the test and ensure that we are fully prepared for such incidents in real life.

"The exercise scenario will involve dealing with rescuing trapped casualties, carrying out fast flowing water rescues and deploying an array of flood rescue equipment and highly skilled staff in the Bala area.

"Flooding exercises such as this provide vital experience for those involved in the emergency services to test their resilience during difficult times."

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Derek Masson, Mid and WestWalesFire and Rescue Service and Chair of the Wales Inland Flood and Water Rescue Group added:

"The Wales Inland Water Flood and Rescue Group was formed to improve the flooding response of all emergency responders inWalesand enables us to respond to emergency flooding incidents as a single team. The group has provided an ideal opportunity for all agencies involved to develop joint working practices and procedures, which will strengthen our joint ability to provide a first class emergency response throughoutWales.  

"The exercise at Bala offers the chance to put these practices and procedures to the test - the outcomes of which will assist in the group's development. I would like to thank North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, as key members of the group, for hosting the exercise."

A community safety and awareness day was held at Bala Lesiure centre on Tuesday 19th March to highlight the exercise beforehand and to help those living in the area to find out more about how emergency responders are geared up for dealing with flooding incidents. Advice was available on flood awareness and fire safety along with the opportunity to meet staff representing North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, Royal Air Force Search and Rescue and the RNLI.

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