Lancaster Area Search and Rescue (LASAR) is now a 15 strong, fully accredited nationally deployable team.
Set up in the aftermath of major flooding in Galgate, Halton and Lancaster in November 2017, LASAR has gone from strength to strength, and is now a fully trained team able to respond to flooding and river emergencies across the country from their base in Caton Road.
The organisation opened a charity shop on the site in May 2018, however the shop had to close this week after a pipe burst and flooded the premises.
But the shop has now re-opened and will continue to raise funds for the vehicles, tools and equipment the team needs.
Paul Calland, operations manager for LASAR said: “There are now 15 of us on the team, which is going up to 20 in the next couple of months.
“We’re also now nationally deployable, after being accredited by Defra as a nationally deployable team.
“This also means that if anything happens in the local area, we can coordinate other teams from elsewhere in the country who will be able to come and help us.
“The closest is a Lancashire Fire and Rescue team, based in Penwortham.
“In a major flood, eight to ten teams would be brought in.
“At the moment we’ve got a very old command vehicle that we bought for a couple of thousand pounds, and we’ve just had a second hand 4X4 Transit van donated, which we’ll convert into a crew van.
“At some point we’re going to need a 4X4, and we’re looking for a second hand Land Rover Discovery, and trying to raise around £8,000 for that.”
The team recently added two new rescue boats and an outboard to its inventory.
Paul said LASAR is also providing accredited water awareness training for community groups and junior rescue team training from 3-1-5 gym in Lancaster.
The team is also looking to get out into the community more and work with primary schools and other organisations.
A DEFRA Level 1 Water Awareness Training will take place on Saturday April 6 at Victoria Institute in Caton from 10am – 2pm.
Caton-with-Littledale Parish Council are organising this course, and has free places for up to 15 people who live in the parish of Caton-with-Littledale. For others there is a charge of £30. Refreshments will be provided by Lune Valley Flood Forum who are supporting the event.
If you or your organisation would be interested, please contact Jenny Walmsley on 01524 771299
For more information about LASAR’s work, and the training they offer, visit www.lasar.org.uk.
Paul Calland said the team was set up due to a shortage of experienced crews in the area following major flooding events.
He said: “It seemed like there was a shortage of experienced crews in the immediate area.
“A number of the team of 12 are very experienced in flood rescue.
“It was noticable during the last flood in November that local assets have been a bit thin on the ground.
“There’s clear evidence that these floods are going to happen more regularly.
“Hopefully people will get behind us, ” he said.
Last year the team, who have been training from Denny Beck near Halton on the River Lune for years, took part in water rescue training in York, and said it would be working with the police, fire and rescue service, and the coastguard to provide a more comprehensive response to flooding and water emergencies in the Lancaster area.
Why does Lancaster need a rescue team?
In recent years much of the UK has suffered from the impact of flooding at an enormous emotional and social cost. Year after year multiple flood warning to the UK, specifically the North West are administered. Between 2006-2014 Cockermouth and Keswick were affected by widespread flooding, and during the winter months of 2015 and 2016 the devastation caused by Storm Desmond affected huge parts of Lancashire, Cumbria and York.
More recently in November 2017, Lancaster and specifically Galgate, were the worst affected by Storm Brian.
Emergency crews received over 500 calls and attended more than 100 incidents in one night.
When this level of disaster happens, the local emergency services need all the help they can get.