In November 2013, MST’s Fleet Services division, provided a Water Safety and Rescue Response package for a section of the tidal part of the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal, in the near vicinity of Runcorn Bridge, between Runcorn and Widnes in Cheshire, England.
Runcorn Bridge (sometimes called The Silver Jubilee Bridge) crosses the River Mersey and the Manchester Ship Canal at Runcorn Gap. It is a Through Arch Bridge with a main arch span of 1,082 feet (330 m). The bridge is designated by English Heritage as a Grade II listed structure, however traffic on the bridge has continued to grow to over 80,000 vehicles a day. Vital maintenance work was required and MST – the rigid inflatable boat experts – were contracted to provide the necessary Water Safety and Rescue Response package for a 10 day period with an option for night time cover.
MST’s Managing Director of Fleet Services, Alan Ashton said “Our highly experienced and skilled marine/water safety team was perfectly suited for the job at hand. Our professional accountability, experience and logistical credibility is unrivalled, enabling us to provide assured safe systems of work and access arrangements in marine and inland water environments.”
Prior to the contract commencing, a site walk-through was conducted to confirm risk analysis and facilities. Supervisory audits took place by MST managers through the duration of the contract and the outcomes reviewed and changes made to improve effectiveness.
The contract demanded the attention of two teams comprising three personnel per team, with skills and competencies including DEFRA module 4 (Rescue Boat Response), DEFRA module 3 (Swift-water Rescue), First Aid, Oxygen Therapy and Advanced Power Boat.
The equipment used included a high performance Inflatable Rescue Boat equipped to DEFRA type B specification, Inflatable Rescue Sleds, Extended Reach equipment, Inflatable pathways, Scene Illumination, VFH radios, Casualty Management and Trauma equipment, Launch and recovery trailer, Rescue Logistical Support Vehicle and a 4×4 Response Vehicle.
“In short,” says Alan, “we were ready for anything!”
Two marine/water safety teams covered the scaffold works, one on the tidal Mersey sections of the bridge and one covering sections over the Manchester Ship Canal. Personnel and equipment remained in a ready-to-respond state during cover periods subject to dynamic site conditions. Procedural deployment and launch of rescue equipment for the purpose of monitoring and evaluation was programmed to take place during the contract period. Status, communications and activity information was recorded at each location and disablement and/or limitation of provision would be immediately communicated to site managers and appropriate measures acted upon to re-enable the provision. Resilience for personnel was managed and supported by supervisors based at MST HQ in Liverpool. Resilience for critical response equipment was managed initially at each site and supported also with equipment held at MST.
Visual and audible monitoring of the site during safety cover periods was continuous, using processes and equipment in a ready-to-respond state. Responses would be commensurate with appropriate safety measures and risk assessment for responding personnel, casualties and others involved. Emergency response, first aid, casualty management, recovery and post incident management are the systematic process steps that would be used for reporting purposes and structured debriefs. Response measures were to be hierarchical and include; communications and coordination Port Authorities and MCA operational teams.
Alan concludes by saying “The contract was successfully delivered even though the teams dealt with some extreme weather and tidal conditions. There were no gaps in operational cover, resulting in effective and focused safety operations with zero harm and no accidents or incidents. All-in-all, the perfect outcome.”
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