A group of 14 young people with complex learning needs, aged from 14 to 22, who attend Uplands Educational Trust and Uplands School, have been working with Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service to experience a basic fire and rescue training course.
Known as Salamander, the programme encourages participants to work as a team, while building up confidence and self-esteem – it involves firefighting skills with hose, pumping appliances and hydrants; abseiling; ladder climbing; search and rescue; casualty care; road traffic collision rescue skills; and water rescue.
At the end of the course between 5 and 14 October at Swindon fire station in Drove Road, the group put on a display of their new skills for family, staff from the school and college, and senior Fire & Rescue Service officers.
Watch Manager Mark Evans, who organised the course, said: “This is the first time that a Salamander course has been run for the UET College and Uplands School. The programme is usually aimed at young people who need support or even redirection in their lives, and we use the sessions to highlight the consequences of certain behaviours. However, with this group, we are focussing on self-esteem and teamwork, allowing the young people to learn new skills and then work with others to achieve their aims. It is also an opportunity for the emergency services to provide some valuable education and safety messages.
“The course was a great success with the young people enthusiastic about learning new skills and challenging themselves when faced with a variety of firefighting activities. It has been incredibly rewarding for the young people, the instructors and the staff that have accompanied them. We are delighted to have been able to secure funding in order to offer this valuable experience, and we hope this is the first of many such courses for this group.”
Although Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service runs the course, the firefighters work in collaboration with other emergency services to ensure that a beneficial and rewarding course is delivered.