clearwaterRoyal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service's competition rescue team has once again proved to be the best in the world after winning the 2013 World Rescue Challenge for an unprecedented third year in a row.

The Challenge, which was held in Clearwater, Florida from 1-3 November, saw the RBFRS team competing against the top fire and rescue service teams from around the world and successfully defend their title as reigning World Champions.

During the three-day event, the teams are faced with a range of realistic road traffic collision scenarios, each one lasting around 20-30 minutes. Each scenario requires the teams to use their skills to rescue real-life ‘casualties’ – complete with body make-up to reflect their ‘injuries’. The teams have to work against the clock using specialist equipment such as hydraulic cutters and saws, whilst being marked by a panel of international judges.

In addition to grading each team as a whole, individual roles are also judged including the incident commander and designated medic. As well as taking first place overall, the RBFRS team also came first in the ‘best technical’ category, second for ‘best incident commander’, and won third place for ‘best medic’.

Group Manager Paul Maynard has led the RBFRS team to all three World Rescue Challenge victories. This Challenge was his last competition and he is now retiring from the team after 18 years and he said: “I am very proud and absolutely delighted that we have won the World Rescue Challenge for the third year running. The standard of the teams taking part gets higher with every Challenge and this year was no exception, so we really had to give it our all. 

“I had always planned to retire from competing after this event and even if we hadn’t won, everything we have achieved over the last few years would have made all the training and hard work worthwhile. However, for me to retire knowing that the team are once again World Champions is an incredible feeling. I will still be involved in the world of extrication as the United Kingdom Rescue Organisation has asked me to become an assessor, so I now have the chance to give something back.”

As well as taking part in the Challenge, the team also attended workshops and training events, learning new techniques and using the most innovative tools on the market today. These skills and tools will be then incorporated in the day-to-day work of RBFRS, ultimately ensuring that crews are as efficient as possible when dealing with road traffic collisions on Berkshire’s roads.

Chief Fire Officer Andy Fry added: “Winning the World Rescue Challenge is a fantastic achievement in itself but to win it for three years in a row is absolutely outstanding. The fact that this has never been done before is testament to their hard work and dedication, and I am very proud of the team.

“However, aside from the honour that winning the Challenge again undoubtedly brings, that is not the only reason we take part in such competitions. Competing against teams from around the world enables our team to develop new specialist rescue techniques, which are then embedded into the training that all of our firefighters receive. In this way, all of our crews benefit from the competitions as they put these skills to use in real life incidents, helping us to achieve our aim of reducing loss of life, injury and damage from road traffic collisions.”