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British Red Cross water rescuers in national flood emergency exercise

Thursday 10 March 2011

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Henry Makiwa:, 0207 877 7479 or out of hours 07659 145095 


The British Red Cross today launched three of its high-speed boats on day two of Exercise Watermark, a programme designed to test the emergency response arrangements across England and Wales for severe, widespread flooding.

A team of 12 British Red Cross swift water rescue unit members took to the waters on Lincolnshire’s 60-acre Tattershall Lake today (Thursday 10 March 2011) during one of the biggest emergency response exercises ever staged in the UK.

The group, from Inverness, Scotland joined scores of other Red Cross volunteers along with other agencies such as WRVS, Rotary Club, and RNLI, to support the emergency services, local authorities and government departments in a variety of demanding scenarios.

These involved:
•         Rescuing people “trapped” on the roof of a house

•         Rescuing “casualties” trapped in a car that had been swept away in floodwaters

•         Recovering “bodies” from a submerged caravan

•         Carrying out search and rescue sweeps of the lake

British Red Cross operations director Joy Clift Hill said: “Exercise Watermark is an ideal opportunity for the British Red Cross to test their emergency response plans alongside the main emergency services and other voluntary organisations.

“In a crisis, the emergency services call on us to support their work and deal with the humanitarian needs of the crisis, ensuring the people affected are cared for and supported.”

The Red Cross swift water rescuers were put through their paces in several timed simulations. They were also supported by a communications team working from their state-of-the-art mobile command vehicle.

HRH the Duke of Gloucester, also visited Tattershall Lakes where the exercise was testing the country's preparedness to disasters, as well as a number of other key recommendations from the Pitt Review and other recent flood reviews.

Yesterday volunteers supported the evacuation of Sutton on Sea, involving 200 volunteer evacuees including 70-100 schoolchildren from Sutton on Sea Primary School.

Staff and volunteers were on hand to register evacuees, and provide practical and emotional support at the rest centre in Louth Town Hall throughout the day. Red Cross 4x4 ambulances at Manby assisted at the evacuation hub transporting clients to the rest centre or other shelter.

Throughout the week, the British Red Cross will be working with other voluntary organisations to support the main emergency services, including WRVS, Yorks and Lincs 4x4, St John Ambulance, Rotary Club, LIVES, RSPCA and Raynet.

Around the country, other areas will be carrying out similar exercises as emergency services, councils, voluntary organisations and government departments come together to test their plans and preparations for different types of flooding.

If you would like to find out more about Exercise Watermark or how you could become an emergency response volunteer for the British Red Cross contact 0845 054 7171 or visit



For more information on the British Red Cross please visit:

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Notes to editors

• For interviews, images or more information, please contact Henry Makiwa on 02078777479

The British Red Cross helps people in crisis, whoever and wherever they are. We are part of a global voluntary network, responding to conflicts, natural disasters and individual emergencies.
We enable vulnerable people in the UK and abroad to prepare for and withstand emergencies
in their own communities. And when the crisis is over, we help them to recover and move on
with their lives. For more information please visit

The Red Cross responds to hundreds of emergencies in the UK every year and supports the emergency services in various ways across the country. We work in partnership with the emergency services and local authorities, to support their work in responding to crisis.