Cumbria rescue services back film to tackle swim tragedies
2nd July 2012
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A hard-hitting film has been launched today to warn the teenagers across the region about the potentially fatal consequences of swimming in reservoirs and other forms of open water such as quarries.

The ‘Not a Game’ film from water company United Utilities is backed by Cumbria County Council Fire & Rescue Service, as well as other emergency service organisations from across the region such as the North West Ambulance Service. You can see it at

Shot from the perspective of a teenage boy who decides to swim at a local reservoir, the film uses video gaming style graphics to accompany actions as they unfold on screen, culminating in images which show him getting into difficulties and drowning.

Paul Phillips, a spokesperson for United Utilities, said: “If you lose a life in a computer game you just start again. But real life isn’t like that. By combining realistic footage of a drowning incident with gaming style graphics, we wanted to hit home with teenagers that swimming in reservoirs is no game. Far from being fun, it can be fatal and there are no second chances.”

‘Not a Game’ has been praised by emergency service teams across the region, anxious to avoid tragedy this summer.

Adrian Buckle, Head of Service Delivery for Cumbria Fire & Rescue, said: “Every year the emergency services have to respond to real life tragedies such as the one portrayed in the video, unfortunately the hidden danger of deep cold water is not understood, even on a hot summers day the hazard remains. People entering the water are not only risking their own lives but members of the public who may try to help and members of the emergency services who respond to the incident.”

In the past four years nine people have drowned in North West reservoirs and other bodies of water across the region, the most recent of which being 15 year old Thomas Barton from Chorley who tragically died last month at Birkacre Brow in Yarrow Valley Park. Although there have been no fatalities at United Utilities reservoirs in recent years, the company is determined to lead the way in making sure people know about the dangers.

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) hopes that United Utilities’ film will help remind people of how real the dangers are. Derek Cartwright, Director of Emergency Services, said: “We cannot stress enough about the dangers of swimming in open water. When we experience hot weather, 999 calls increase for incidents whereby people have either got injured jumping in the water or who found themselves in difficulty which can be life threatening, and unfortunately we have already seen the tragic death of a teenager in Chorley in these circumstances.

“I personally dealt with an incident in 2008 when a man innocently went for a swim in a reservoir and after getting into difficulty, he sadly lost his life. Soon after, I unexpectedly received a heartfelt letter from his devastated wife thanking me for my efforts in trying to revive him. When we hear stories like this in the media, it is a stark reminder to us all that one misjudgement of potential danger can have shattering consequences.”

‘Not a Game’ is also supported by industry organisations such as the Mineral Products Association (MPA) which runs a national ‘Stay Safe… Stay Out of Quarries’ campaign to highlight the dangers young people expose themselves to by entering quarries uninvited, including a Facebook page featuring videos of parents and friends of teenagers who have lost their lives in tragic quarry accidents.

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