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Student supports crews tackling Saddleworth blaze

Tuesday 10 July 2018

A STUDENT set to graduate from the University of Salford has been providing support to fire crews fighting the blaze on Saddleworth Moor.

Vanessa Hughes, who has just completed a degree in Sports Science, has spent the last nine months working on a placement with Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) and went to help provide assistance to crews she had worked with as they fought to contain the moorland fire.

Vanessa, who will be graduating at The Lowry on July 17, spent three days on the moors working alongside GMFRS physiologist Becki Jones.

Trucks of donations

She helped organise and distribute large amounts of donations that supermarkets and generous members of the public had made to Stalybridge Fire Station, loading up two trucks with crucial supplies such as food, sunscreen and bottles of water to the crews as they worked under a blazing sun.

She also helped carry out wellbeing assessments of the firefighters, finding out what the crews needed and seeing what their morale was like, as well as visiting businesses in the area to pick up other donated items, such as nutrition bars and clean socks for firefighters who had come from other parts of the UK.

Vanessa has been working with Becki throughout the last year as part of an ongoing research project between the University of Salford and GMFRS.

Academics and students are currently investigating the effectiveness of devices designed to remotely monitor firefighters’ core body temperature as they work in burning buildings.

Supporting crews

Vanessa said: “This was a fantastic experience drawing upon all the skills I have learnt throughout the placement process. It was nice to see employees from across GMFRS in varying roles all in action in a real life scenario.

“It also meant a lot to hear of their appreciation for me taking the time to help and continue my work and support within the service."

When the moorland fires started, she didn’t hesitate to help out and do what we could to support our crews.

Becki said: “It’s been great working alongside Vanessa these past nine months. She’s been so helpful and willing to get involved in all our projects alongside my day to day work.

“When the moorland fires started, she didn’t hesitate to help out and do what we could to support our crews. I am very grateful for all her help and support and look forward to continuing our relationship with Vanessa and the University of Salford.”

Longstanding partnership

The University of Salford has been working in partnership with GMFRS for the last five years, with more than 20 academics working on a series of collaborate research projects, while placements have also been given to students and leading figures from the service have been involved in shaping the curriculum.

Martyn Matthews, Senior Lecturer in Health Sciences at the University of Salford, said: “We’re incredibly proud of Vanessa, particularly as she volunteered her time after she’d finished her degree.

“We have a long-standing relationship with GMFRS and we’re glad Vanessa was able to use this connection to provide assistance to the crews during one of the most gruelling operations they’ve had to face.” 

Image: GMFRS Head Physiologist Becki Jones (left) with Sports Science student Vanessa Hughes (right) helping crews on Saddleworth.