The Dee River Festival is all about getting paddlers, that’s kayaking/canoeing enthusiasts to you and me, together and having a great couple of days on the iconic River Dee.
The Dee River Festival event organisers, Chris Leesmith of Paddleworks Ltd and Alistair Othen, a PE teacher at Oswestry School, scheduled a range of paddling and rescue workshops catering for the novice right through to advanced paddlers. Those not wanting to take part in a workshop this year, could take the 20 kilometer river tour from Glyndyfrdwy to Ty Mawr.
NEWSAR were pulled in to provide safety cover for the weekend and this also allowed them to work through some real life training scenarios.
It was great to be back at The Dee River Festival this year. As a team we have come a long way with our water rescue capability over the last 12 months which saw NEWSAR involved in several high profile water searches and incidents. We used the proceeds from last year’s festival Charity Auction together with funding from the North Wales Mountain Rescue Association to purchase a Gumotex Pulsar raft. This proved to be a great asset during this year’s event, as we were able to transport paddlers and their kayaks safely back to the river bank.
Swiftwater Rescue Technician
Our specially trained Swiftwater Rescue Technicians (SRTs) are a relatively new addition to the team’s capabilities and in recent months, they have been deployed at an increasing rate. Their training doesn’t restrict them to fishing capsized paddlers out of rivers though, it also allows the Team to cover water courses and adjacent areas when searching for missing people and allows team members to be deployed to aid flood victims.
Together The Dee River Festival and NEWSAR put on a fantastic event that attracted people from all over the world to North Wales. The SRTs were deployed at the grade 4 rapid called Town Falls, ensuring that paddlers and their equipment were rescued before reaching the dangerous weir downstream.
Several rescues took place, but nothing more serious than a broken nose and gashed eyebrows needed to be treated. The battered paddlers still had smiles on their faces and went along to the White Waters Hotel on Saturday night to enjoy the talks and films that had been scheduled.
The Dee River Festival had also arranged a charity auction to thank the NEWSAR volunteers for their support.
I would like to thank The Dee River Festival organisers for again supporting NEWSAR at the Charity Auction and for suppliers including Pyranha, Palm, Peak, Nookie, Alpkit and Fire It Up for donating equipment that enabled £1,350 to be raised towards our running costs.
We had eight to ten SRTs deployed in two teams. One team manned throw lines and performed live bait rescues for paddlers who had ended up in the river. The second team was placed in the raft for rescues, evacuation and kayak/canoe transport. This gave us valuable, real world training that will help us develop our rescue techniques and procedures.