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Operation Florian donates water rescue boat to the Ohrid Red Cross in Macedonia

Fri 07, Nov, 2014

FIRE AID founding member Operation Florian has recently been awarded an IFE trust fund which has enabled the project team to donate an inland water rescue boat to the Ohrid Red Cross, Macedonia, as part of its continued support in the capacity building of water rescue response around Lake Ohrid.

FIRE AID founding member Operation Florian has recently been awarded an IFE trust fund which has enabled the project team to donate an inland water rescue boat to the Ohrid Red Cross, Macedonia, as part of its continued support in the capacity building of water rescue response around Lake Ohrid.

The boat, kindly donated by Kent Fire and Rescue Service, was also attributed to Operation Florian’s membership to FIRE AID, an association of UK charities and services with a mutual interest in providing ethical and sustainable donations of fire and rescue aid and training to those in need of such assistance.

Since 2009 Operation Florian has been working in partnership with Ohrid Red Cross to strengthen its capacity to provide fully trained first aiders and lifeguards around the lake with the provision of water rescue boats and safety equipment.  The project partnership formed as a response to the tragic drowning of 15 Bulgarian tourists on 5th September 2009 whilst on board the Ilinden sightseeing boat. After the incident it became immediately apparent that there was insufficient capacity of all services to provide the water rescue capability needed to service the lake and the various users.  

Ohrid is located in the south of the country and is the largest city on Lake Ohrid, and is recognised as one of only 28 Cultural and Natural World Heritage Sites by UNESCO. During the tourist peaks the population of Ohrid can increase three fold and places tremendous demands on a variety of services.  Understandably, there is a high demand of usage for a variety of waters sports and tourist boats on the lake. High usage requires a need for the provision of effective water rescue capacity and life guards.

The Macedonian Red Cross is the lead agency for providing volunteer lifeguards and water rescue capacity throughout the year on the lake.  Since 2009, Operation Florian has trained over 150 volunteer lifeguards and delivered train the trainer courses upgrading the first aid training syllabus to include the use of defibrillators. Currently, the Ohrid Red Cross are now delivering their own first aid training courses to the Police, Fire Service, teachers, municipality officials and other community stakeholders

Water rescue training has been delivered to all lifeguards complimented with boat handling training building skills for lifeguards to handle inland rescue boats effectively in water to rescue casualties.                                                                               

The donation of the boat provides further support for the Ohrid Red Cross to implement its water rescue strategy around the lake to the neighbouring town of Struga supporting the town’s own Red Cross volunteers with first aid training and water rescue awareness.   

The project team are grateful to FIRE AID Steering Committee member Richard Willingham (Kent FRS) and Bruce Hoad (Operation Florian) for organising and transporting the boat as well as the IFE for supporting such an important project.