Water rescue dogs join South Yorkshire firefighters in training

Firefighters from South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue have teamed up with some clever canines to showcase their water rescue skills at Rother Valley Reservoir.

Three Newfoundlands and one Leonberger scent dog from Pete Lewin Newfoundlands charity joined Edlington and Aston Park crews for the training exercise. Firefighters carried out a number of water rescue techniques incorporating the dogs, testing the manoeuvres and skills the dogs have when rescuing people in dangerous water situations.

The specialist training session was created to provide crews with an opportunity to further their knowledge and work with water rescue dogs. It allowed them to see the capabilities that the dogs have and the way that they work, which is something that has never been done before within the service.

Station Manager Chris Lally said, “Water rescue is a core area in which a select number of our firefighters specialise. Any opportunity we get to explore new and advanced ways of carrying out this function is always welcomed within the service.

“Around 400 people needlessly drown in the UK every year and thousands more suffer injury, some life changing, through near-drowning experiences. It is essential to be aware of the hidden dangers that rivers, lakes and reservoirs can present.”

Pete Lewin, Paramedic and founder of Pete Lewin Newfoundlands, said, “As a small team of like-minded people we go all around the country to emergency services shows. We have developed various manoeuvres for getting people out of the water with the dogs. Over the past eight years we have been looking into rescue work with these powerful and amazing animals and have trained with a number of fire and rescue services throughout the country.

“We would like to thank South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue for inviting us to Rother Valley and for giving us the opportunity to train with the crews.”

Pete Lewin Newfoundlands is a not-for-profit, voluntary organisation that uses Newfoundland dogs to help promote water safety and deliver water safety workshops to schools and other groups. The dogs are also used for emotional support swims for people suffering with stress related problems.

The Newfoundland dog is traditionally a large, strong breed of working dog. With webbed feet and a very muscular build, they are regularly used for water rescue and lifesaving. The dogs from Pete Lewin Newfoundlands are trained by their owners and used for exercises and training on a voluntary basis. The charity hopes that in the future, these dogs could operate and work alongside agencies involved in search and rescue.

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