Street art at Western Station gives the Fatal Four message

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If you’re heading through New Parks in Leicester anytime soon, and pass Western Fire and Rescue Station, you’ll find some impressive new street art outside the station.

But it isn’t all for fun. Firefighters have created their own graffiti street art in an attempt to highlight the Fatal Four to young drivers in the New Park area. Richard Curtis and Ainsley Burton from Western Fire and Rescue Station’s White Watch have used wooden boards to create their graffiti street art as a unique way to spread positive key safety messages to the local community.

Armed with their spray paint cans and the boards, Richard and Ainsley set about crafting a piece of street art to promote the Service’s Fatal Four safety message, which is important and relevant for drivers of all ages, but especially for younger drivers.

The Fatal Four is a road safety campaign, highlighting the four biggest dangers whilst driving; drink and drugs, using mobile phones, speeding and not wearing seatbelts. This message is delivered to young drivers across Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland using the VF4 car, a car-crash simulator, and the Fatal Four website (www.thefatalfour.co.uk.) The website is designed for educators and offers a unique range of resources, hard-hitting videos, free of charge, in an attempt to reduce the high number of fatalities on our roads involving young drivers.

Western Fire and Rescue Station is based in the heart of New Parks, on Aikman Avenue, and visible to the busy New Parks Way. The new boards will capture the attention of passers-by to emphasise the important Fatal Four message. Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service attended 638 road traffic collisions in 2012/13, an increase on the previous year.

Andy Galway, Station Manager at Western Fire and Rescue Station, said: “These boards are not only brilliantly created but also carry an important message. We want to reduce the number of young drivers who die on our roads each year from drink and drugs, using their mobile phone, speeding and not wearing a seatbelt.”

The boards can and will be changed in the future, along with its key messages, to fit in with key messages that the Service wants to spread around the local community. Another board is planned at the station for Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s very own street artists to promote more awareness campaigns.

For more information on the Fatal Four and VF4 car, see http://www.thefatalfour.co.uk and http://www.leicestershire-fire.gov.uk/your-safety/road-safety/vf4/home

 

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Firefighters Take The Reins For Foxy Rescue

To look at Foxy now, you wouldn’t think she had gone through one of the most unique and difficult rescues Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service’s Technical Rescue team have ever had to undertake.

It was in the afternoon of 24 May when Foxy, an eleven year old Irish Sport Horse, fell backwards into a well in a field at her livery in South-West Leicestershire. After the initial arrival of an engine from Hinckley, the Technical Rescue team, based at Southern Station on Meridian Business Park were called to the scene to help rescue Foxy.

Mark Edwards, from Technical Rescue’s Blue Watch, arrived on the scene and knew this was going to be a unique scenario: “We were faced with a metre diameter well, with the only part of the horse visible being the knees, head and neck – the rest of her body was submerged below water.

“It’s out of the ordinary; not something you come across every day. We’ve only ever seen one other animal in a well and that was a bull. We’d never seen anything quite like this before. It’s not a situation you can train for or envisage because you wouldn’t have thought a horse could get into that position in the first place.”

Just getting Tech Rescue to Foxy proved difficult in itself. The crews unique and specialist training meant they were required to attend another incident in Syston. Mark recalls: “The whole day was bizarre because we’d just left the M69 to attend the incident with Foxy when we were requested to turn back down the motorway with a call of someone trapped under a HGV.

“We went all the way to the incident, where you’re expecting to pull someone from a HGV, only to be told when you turn up that the crew in attendance had literally just pulled the person out. We asked if they minded if we left, so we got back in the vehicle to come all the way back to the livery.”

With Foxy in a water-filled well and in an extremely precarious position, the crews from Technical Rescue, Hinckley and Warwickshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Animal Rescue team needed to come up with a plan to get her out safely. That plan was made harder when the crews realised there was no room down the well and it was too unsafe with the position Foxy had found herself in.

The worst case scenario was also debated, as Mark recollects: “There was a considerable amount of discussion that took place as to whether it was a viable rescue or not, and there were divided opinions about whether we were going to be actually able to achieve the rescue within animal welfare. So we requested the police in case we needed a marksman.”

Two plans were thought up on the best way to get Foxy out of the well, one of which involved using a mechanical digger to dig down alongside the well and break through the side. However, it was decided to initially try working from the top so that crews were safe. They began to feed the strop (rescue harness) down and around Foxy’s back, hooking it back underneath her front legs. The method is one normally reserved for dragging trapped horses lying flat on the ground. “It’s certainly not a technique used for lifting a horse, but it was the only way that we could manage to do it” says Mark.

The rescue crews’ biggest problem was getting the strops round Foxy to achieve a vertical lift. Once this was successful the mechanical digger that had arrived from Hinckley completed the lift to save Foxy. The crews plans had succeeded, but not without cost.

While every technical rescue provides lessons for officers, this unique rescue gave Officer Edwards and the crew a valuable lesson: “We managed to get the strops on the front legs and round her chest but it’s believed this may have caused Foxy some medical problems. Unfortunately this was the only way we were going to get her out quickly but we’ve learned a lot from that and taken that information away for training and any future rescues like this.”

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue’s Animal Rescue team were an important assistance to the Technical Rescue crew. Only recently created, they held state-of-the-art equipment which LFRS’ Tech Rescue crew lacked. The equipment used was so important in the rescue that Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service have since purchased the same equipment for their team.

After Foxy was lifted to safety, the important task fell to the vets to ensure Foxy was assessed and didn’t cause herself any further injury. Jonathan Bryars of Chine House Vets, said: “As Foxy got to the top we gave her some sedation so she didn’t get too excited. We also had to keep her laying on the ground until the heavy sedation had worn off. We wanted to assess that she didn’t have any broken legs. Then when she was more awake we helped her up.”

After her rescue and examination, Foxy had suffered a fracture on the back of her knee, which led to a joint infection, along with superficial wounds.

Arrangements were made for Foxy to be taken to Rossdales Equine Hospital in Newmarket and she received intensive care and treatment for a total of eight weeks.

While the knee injury and infection still needs dressing, this luckiest of horses managed to fully recover from all her other injuries.

Amy Badge, Foxy’s owner, has owned her for three years now and was at university in Bath completing her first year studying Economics when the incident occurred. However, with exams taking place, Amy’s dad decided not to tell Amy what had happened until a week later, whilst Foxy began her recuperation: “I couldn’t believe it when I heard what had happened to Foxy, I was just getting onto a bus at uni and broke down into tears, it was devastating news and it’s something my family and I, along with those involved, will never forget.

You’d have thought an incident such as this would have been traumatic for poor Foxy, but not so according to Amy: “She’s always been a gentle horse, but considering how bad the injuries were she’s not really been as spooked as we expected her to be, although having a lot of people around her unnerves her at the minute, but nowhere near as bad as we expected!”

Large animal rescues are frequent incidents for fire and rescue service’s to attend and Leicestershire’s is no exception. Thanks to specialist teams many of these incidents result in a positive outcome (although not always). Amazingly, despite the bleak situation, Foxy’s amazing rescue by the crews in attendance ensured the day did not end tragically. Thankful to all those involved in her rescue, Foxy is now back in South-West Leicestershire and in the final stages of recovery from her injuries… hopeful of never seeing a Technical Rescue team ever again!

Photography by Andy Hartley (LFRS), Mark Badge and Alistair Lanagham at http://www.thestudio17.co.uk

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A HAPPY REUNION: (l-r) Jonathan Bryars (Chine House Veterinary Practice), Firefighter Dave Bate (Blue Watch technical Rescue) Foxy, Amy Badge and Crew Manager Mark Edwards (Blue Watch Technical Rescue)

A HAPPY REUNION: (l-r) Jonathan Bryars (Chine House Veterinary Practice), Firefighter Dave Bate (Blue Watch Technical Rescue) Foxy, Amy Badge and Crew Manager Mark Edwards (Blue Watch Technical Rescue)