Last Updated: 26 September 2019
Created: 11 September 2019
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson watched members of Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group transform into firefighters at the Salamander Project Pass Out Parade.
The Salamander Project is a collaboration between the Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and Swindon Down’s Syndrome Group, which sees young people with Down's Syndrome participate in a five-day long course with local firefighters, police officers and paramedics.
The course aims to help develop confidence and self-esteem, build skills and have fun. Participants work as a team and learn firefighting skills such as abseiling, ladder climbing, search and rescue, first aid, road traffic collision rescue skills, and how to use real operational equipment.
At the end of the course there is a passing out parade and graduation for those taking part, which includes a demonstration of the skills they have learned – such as removing someone trapped in a car, as well as rescuing someone from a flat fire.
The course is the same as all the other similar courses run by Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, teaching exactly the same skills and putting the youngsters through exactly the same tasks.
Justin said: “The Pass Out Parade was fantastic to see, and I was very impressed with the skills they displayed during the demonstrations. I think it is important that young people with disabilities have the same opportunities to build confidence and learn new skills – and initiatives like the Salamander Project do fantastic work to facilitate this.”
Accompanying Justin on the visit was work experience student from Cirencester College, Maria Bartucca.
As part of her time in Justin’s office, Maria wrote the following account of the visit:
Justin was able to participate in the Swindon Salamander Pass Out Parade, held by the Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and Swindon Down's Syndrome Group. This aims to boost confidence and teach pupils the required skills needed in the event of an emergency.
Pupils are also taught rescue techniques such as climbing ladders, abseiling and operating water hoses. This takes place over a week and, at the end of the week, they demonstrate the skills that they have learnt and developed over the week with some support from the Fire Service.
The pupils were able to show how they would extract people from an RTC accident and how they would get people out from a burning building. This is the culmination of a week's worth of taught skills and shows how all those who participated were able to put these skills to use. This event showed how much their confidence had been boosted and gave them important knowledge and experience of how to react in emergency situations.
Justin went to this event and gave a short speech at the end, commending the young people for what they did, their perseverance and effort shown throughout the event. This would have not been possible without the hard work and dedication of the Fire Service, Swindon Down's Syndrome Group and the young people themselves who were able to develop new skills and put these to use in a practical, real world situation.