ghanaSince 2003, the World Rescue Organisation has been working in partnership with the Ghana National Fire Service to improve its response to road traffic collisions. Geoff Hayes MIFireE reports...

In 2003, a partnership was set up between the World Rescue Organisation (WRO) and the Ghana National Fire Service (GNFS) after a chance meeting between the then head of the World Rescue Organisation and a fire officer who was working with the Adventure Scouts to build schools in Ghana. Since then the partnership has trained over 3,000 Ghanaian firefighters and delivered hydraulic rescue equipment across the country as well as donating fire engines, support vehicles and other equipment.

The 2012 visit took place in Accra in March and has further expanded the partnership. Ghana, which gained its independence from Britain over 50 years ago, has attracted lots of investment from developing economies which is evident from the construction across the city. With this has come a faster road network and more car ownership, leading to increased risk on the road. Accra is its capital city situated on Ghana's south coast. It sits on the Trans African Highway running from Dakar to Lagos.

The last visit by a WRO Team was in 2008 when they assisted Ghana in running their first National Extrication Challenge. The challenge mirrored the format run across the world where teams are asked to tackle simulated car accidents and are assessed on their performance. Although there is a competitive element, the underpinning principle is the global sharing of best practice. The best team from the Ghanaian Challenge travelled to Cardiff to take part in the World Rescue Challenge. Although they did not win, they were given a 'spirit of the challenge' award because of their enthusiasm to learn and get involved. The Republic of Ghana is committed to the partnership. An indication of this is the financial investment that the GNFS makes for each visit which equates to £30,000. This money covers the physical requirements of the course and provides food and accommodation for the students and instructors. A major cost is scrap vehicles whose dissection is a fundamental part of any road traffic extrication training.

In Ghana, most vehicles are kept on the road regardless of their condition, which makes scrap vehicles rare. They cost the GNFS over £500 each. The world rescue instructors are all part of the UK fire and rescue services: Tyne and Wear, Cheshire, Central Scotland, South Wales, South Yorkshire, Leicestershire and Oxfordshire. The project has also been supported by three chief fire officers across its nine year life. Some funding for the project comes from the World Rescue Organisation itself and the Charitable Education Foundation of the Institution of Fire Engineers. The trip presents a unique personal development opportunity for all those involved. It delivers practical training that takes place in temperatures consistently over 35 degrees. The conditions are compounded by the necessary personal protective equipment (overalls, goggles and gloves) required for this type of work. The Ghanaian Fire Service officers seem perplexed by the amount of water consumed by their UK colleagues.

To read part two of this article, read the July/August edition of FIRE magazine