Page 18 - July 2019
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A training expedition like no other
 A group of more than 20 emergency service staff have continued to build a lasting relationship with Kenyan firefighters Photo Credit: Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service
 Firefighters fly 6,000 miles to share their knowledge, skills and comradery with counterparts in Kenya – and see how their contribution is saving lives overseas.
A group of more than 20 emergency services staff have continued to build a lasting relationship with Kenyan firefighters during a trip to the African country.
The volunteers from fire and rescue services in Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire were joined by paramedics from the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust (EEAST) for the two-week trip in the Spring. Former Bedfordshire FRS firefighter Ray Willet co-founded the project with Fred Akandi, who lives in Dunstable but was born in Meru, Kenya. They established the partnership in Kenya over a decade ago, with volunteers from the Service first visiting in 2009 following a donation of vehicles and equipment.
Since then, there has been a strong
bond between the Kenyan and British partners, which has seen all three fire and rescue services and ambulance Trust donate tens of thousands of pounds of life- saving equipment to their Kenyan counterparts.
The focus of this trip – the longest one ever completed – was to train Kenyan firefighters on the equipment most recently donated and pass on valuable skills and experience to help them on their firefighting mission.
Bedfordshire FRS donated two fire engines fully loaded with equipment at the end of 2018 and on this expedition, took bags full of old personal protective equipment (PPE) with them.
All 75 Kenyan firefighters, along with police officers, were also taught basic first responder skills, immediate medical care and bandaging techniques by ambulance staff.
Firefighter Ryan Phillips, based at Stopsley and Biggleswade in Bedfordshire, helped organise
the trip and explained how lots of planning made sure everyone got the most out of it.
He said: “It’s a massively rewarding experience; you see an immediate change in the people you’re training. I found the Kenyan firefighters were very practical and learnt the techniques we were showing them quickly. They have really developed and grown in confidence because of the skills passed onto them by the volunteer trainers.”
Activities included basic firefighter training like how to use the fire engine, operate the pump, run out hose, vehicle marshalling, ladder pitching variations, knots and lines, hauling aloft and getting jets to work.
FF Phillips explained the English of their students was very good and it was simply a case of occasionally stripping back or adapting language to ensure everyone got the most out of the busy days.
He continued: “One of the biggest challenges is water supply as they
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