(Gavin Kakoulli being 'rescued' during one of the demonstrations)
Thames Water has become the first water company in the UK to gain a prestigious accreditation for its water safety training – with the courses already helping to save two people from drowning.
Led by Gavin Kakoulli and Phil Sutton, the courses, which have been attended by almost 500 employees and contractors, have been accredited by Outreach Rescue (OR) – the group behind the training of hazard response teams across the country.
Only 11 organisations have been accredited to deliver the specialist rescue courses on behalf of OR including the emergency services, with Thames Water the only water company to deliver its own in-house water safety training.
It means the company is setting new standards in the industry with contractors and ambassadors completing the course, gaining not only valuable training but a key life skill.
In fact, since the course launched in 2015, two attendees have put what they learnt into action and saved two people in separate incidents who could have otherwise died drowning.
A life-saving fact which delights course leader Gavin.
“What we teach people is a crucial life skill – and one that saves lives,” he says.
“We already know of two people who have been on the course who have put some of the skills learnt into practice, rescuing people in real life-threatening situations.
“By applying it to what we do every day, it provides employees who work near or around water the knowledge and confidence that if things go wrong, they will be well equipped to deal with it.
“Although a large percentage of employees work near or around water, both clean and waste, we sometimes forget the dangers of it and how powerful it can be. This course brings it more into focus.”
The courses were first created following the severe floods in the winter of 2013/14. It was one of the wettest winters on record where dozens of roads and villages were left submerged.
Following that and as part of a review, the health and safety training team identified the need to provide instruction on water-safe PPE and give an awareness of the risks of water to the company’s employees.
Now the courses are in full swing, the company is now in a position to declare itself an asset to Defra should a similar situation happen again.
It also means that if other areas of the country suffer from severe flooding, such as what hit Cumbria two years ago, Thames Water could send trained staff to help with the rescue efforts.
The first module is all about water safety awareness and is introduced by a classroom-based learning session, before attendees complete a practical training session, in which Gavin and Phil are “saved” after falling in Wraysbury Reservoir.
The second module is the two-day water safety working course, which is more physically demanding and attendees are taught at the Lee Valley White Water Centre in Waltham Cross how to save themselves in a real-life situation.
Phil added: “We’re really proud of the courses, and it’s an honour to be accredited and to be one of only 11 accredited centres in the country.
“It’s been a real journey to get to the point we are at now, but the support we’ve had from right across the business has been fantastic.
“It’s something that makes your proud to work for Thames, knowing the company does this for its employees.”
(Gavin and Phil talking to the class during the course)