Andy Reynolds' Story
Firefighter Andy Reynolds travelled across the USA and Canada to investigate flood and swiftwater rescue programmes.
In his role as operational firefighter and specialist swiftwater technician with Cornwall Fire and Rescue Service, Andy had witnessed a 400% increase in flood calls in 2012-13 affecting large parts of the county.
Flood and swiftwater rescue programmes in the UK emergency services are a relatively new entity, so from the outset Andy looked across the Atlantic, where practices were ten years or more ahead. He travelled across the USA and Canada, attending a series of workshops and conferences and observing training sessions.
Andy met many inspirational people, including the pioneers of the first swiftwater rescue training, and others who were almost singlehandedly responsible for forcing emergency services to treat flooding as a serious threat.
On returning to the UK, Andy was able to implement a number of small changes quite quickly, before attracting some funding to launch a public water safety campaign, an area not traditionally covered by Fire services.
The Turn Around Don't Drown multi-agency campaign was aimed at the thousands of drivers who endanger themselves by driving into floodwaters, and was a direct result of Andy’s learnings on his Fellowship.
Little did he suspect that these lessons would be put to test quite so soon, with the unprecedented flooding of winter 2013. Crews all over the country used knowledge and experience gleaned from Andy’s Fellowship to assess incidents and perform rescues.
"The benefits of a Winston Churchill Fellowship are both many and varied and will continue to build long after your travels end. Personal and professional confidence and growth comes not just from the incredible experience of travel, but also from sharing what you have learned and the highs and lows of trying to influence change."