A key theme of this morning's session at the Bucks & Milton Keynes Fire Authority USAR Conference [12 Apr] was moving away from the "elitist" aspect of urban search and rescue to normalising special rescue and applying the benefits to day-to-day firefighting.

Bucks CFO Mark Jones introduced the conference's key topic, "it's more than urban search and rescue" by saying that his Force is committed to ongoing investment in USAR but there needs to be a narrowing of the gap between "what the public expect and what we [fire services] can actually do following a disaster".

The event was put into context by an accident on a stretch of the M1 near the stadium:MK complex in Milton Keynes, where the conference was being held, which saw Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue deploy five appliances to a three lorry collision with one fatality.

Back at the conference, CFOA operations director Roy Wilsher spoke of the importance of interoperability and establishing a co-ordinated blue-light response.

"We don't need to do each other's [partner emergency services] jobs but we do need to understand them," he said. "The future is working together at the sharp end to ensure the best possible response in USAR cases."

Senior fire and rescue advisor Chris Boulton gave the government's perspective on USAR by saying that "we need to reset the relationship between emergency response services and the government".

He went on to announce that the creation of the National Strategic Resilience Board will ensure a "one government approach" to dealing with disasters and much more cohesive collaboration between both sides.

Other speakers included FIRE security expert Dr Dave Sloggett, LFB Assistant Commissioner Jim Knighton and Virginia Beach Chief Steven Cover and you can keep up to date with all the action from stadium:MK by following @fire_editor on Twitter throughout the day.

Posted 12/04/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com