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Having a guaranteed supply of safe and clean drinking water is a precious thing and is taken for granted in Germany – not least thanks to the considerable sums of money invested by the private sector. Top priority is also given to levels of safety when it comes to cleaning pressurised tanks and drinking water tanks. One such tank – operated by Wasserverband Lausitz Betriebsführungs GmbH (WAL-Betrieb), a REMONDIS Aqua subsidiary, at the pressure boosting station in Senftenberg – was scheduled recently to be inspected and cleaned. The company decided to use this opportunity to invite the Senftenberg fire brigade to join them and take part in a rescue exercise.
The aim of the exercise was to practise responding to an emergency situation, rescuing and giving first aid to an injured employee – hopefully a situation they will never have to actually experience. With the operations manager at WAL-Betrieb and the Senftenberg fire brigade closely monitoring the exercise, the team practised rescuing a person from a 5,000m3 underground drinking water tank via a steep ladder descending approx. ten metres below ground. The poor light and tight spaces made the operation difficult even for the experienced firefighters. “Fortunately the rescue team did not need to wear special breathing apparatus as the air was okay. Breathing apparatus makes rescue operations in tight spaces far more difficult to carry out,” commented Frank Albin, officer-in-charge at Senftenberg fire brigade.
Poor light and tight spaces make such operations difficult for even the most experienced firefighters
The rescuers strapped a WAL-Betrieb employee to a marine stretcher and then pulled him to the surface where, in an emergency, he would have been given any necessary medical treatment. The officer-in-charge was very pleased with the way the exercise went. “Our colleagues have got to know the local conditions, practised rescuing a person from an underground tank and are now well prepared for such assignments.” WAL-Betrieb believes it is essential for the safety of their staff that they cooperate with the fire and rescue services in this way.
Not just safe water but safe operations as well.
“We wanted to use this exercise to discover any potential weak points as well as to make sure that we have access to a professional rapid response team in the case of an emergency. We have held similar such exercises at the Brieske/Senftenberg sewage treatment plant which were just as successful,” concluded Christoph Maschek, managing director of WAL-Betrieb.