Some of our readers may have seen that our article highlighting the concerns around Surrey SAR’s water rescue certification/training was raised on the Painshill Fire Station Unofficial Facebook page last night.
People are quite rightly angry and upset that Surrey SAR Trustees, SFRS, Surrey Police and Rescue 3 International are putting volunteers lives at risk and those of the public by deploying them into water without genuine training and certification. Others on the other hand seem to think that because they had a successful land search once that they can do no wrong, and fail to see the issues we are raising regarding water rescue and why we are doing so. Water is dangerous, very dangerous.
The organisations mentioned above have remained silent when the concerns were raised. Silence is not an option when lives are being put at risk.
This site needs to exist in order to get truth out, as Surrey SAR won’t allow it themselves and people are regularly hounded out for raising issues and concerns. If Surrey SAR, Lowland Rescue and other organisations dealt with concerns and had effective processes in place then this site would not need to exist. Silencing complainants is not an option.
Surrey SAR have put out this social media message as a result of Painshill’s post.
A few things to point out about this response, firstly we will also offer our thanks to Surrey SAR and all Lowland Rescue volunteers for the assistance they give trying to find missing people. We hope they keep up their work in SAR, stay safe and stay passionate. Remember we are not out to get the people who work hard and give their time to help people in need. There needs to be change and reform within Surrey SAR which we will press for. Remember, we want only the truth. If anything on this site is inaccurate or untrue, simply contact us anonymously through the email link, with any evidence, and we will amend it, its as simple as that.
Surrey SAR are still not addressing the issue of how James Rossell qualified as swift water rescue technician on the River Awe when he was not physically there. If there is an explanation then we will publish it, however as it stands it looks very suspicious and it is in the public interest that people know what is happening at Surrey SAR . The usual James Turnbull/ Seamus Kearns PR spin of this response demonstrates their typical response of playing the victim and trying to hide their wrong doing.
They mention pizza is reserved for certain occasions. They ordered £600 worth last year (and received a 50% discount) which is a lot of pizza. Whilst it is a very welcome “motivation” during a prolonged search where volunteers may not have eaten sufficiently beforehand, the Trustees/Management also order in pizza for pre-arranged meetings. This is an unacceptable waste of charity money. When people donate or run a marathon for SAR they don’t expect it will be spent on pizza for meetings or to pay >£10k legal legal fees to cover up Trustee mismanagement.
They are not being truthful or transparent regarding the “without payment” statement. Surrey SAR invoice Surrey Fire and Rescue Service several thousand pounds annually for a live streaming service to connect to drones. This streaming service is provided by Wirehive which is James Rossell’s (Trustee & Manager) company. He therefore makes money for his own company Wirehive as a direct result of SAR activity.
When Seamus Kearns (Trustee & Manager) was being paid by the charity for fundraising work, this was declared to the membership and declared in the annual report. Mr Rossell has not informed the membership of him making money for his company via SAR activity, nor is it declared on the financial accounts/annual report however he has notified SFRS of the conflict of interest.
We have many documents and AV recordings of Trustees honesty being called into question. The current Trustees need to stand down before it is necessary to release them.
There have been several large fires and major incidents in Surrey recently which have required neighbouring fire services to assist Surrey Fire and Rescue Service on a regular basis as they simply cannot cope due to lack of resources and firefighters due to the cuts made by Surrey County Council. It is leaving Surrey residents in a very vulnerable position when we have to rely on London Fire Brigade, Hampshire, Berkshire and Sussex Fire & Rescue Services to help out.
Painshill Fire Station post on their unofficial Facebook page several of the realities of what is happening in SFRS. Read their page to find out more (https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Government-Organization/Painshill-Fire-Station-unofficial-864668977048044/)
One post came to no surprise to us regarding Surrey SAR, in fact Surrey SAR volunteers were told not to comment on the post so as not to further damage the already fragile reputation between Surrey SAR and SFRS.
It is admirable that Surrey SAR helped out however SFRS needs its own firefighters to be trained and equipped for water rescues before more people lose their lives due to relying on SAR volunteers and the very obvious delays in getting resources to a scene.
On several occasions SFRS firefighters have complained to senior officers about the conduct of Surrey SAR from unprofessional and dangerous conduct including self deploying. It comes as no surprise to hear from SFRS that James Rossell and Seamus Kearns are the most complained about individuals in Surrey SAR by firefighters who really don’t like it when those two turn up.
The main concern of Surrey SAR’s water rescue team in this article is training & certification. Surrey SAR are now a Rescue 3 International training provider to deliver water rescue courses. During a recent audit by DEFRA the Surrey SAR water rescue team were requested to upload their Rescue 3 water rescue certificates. Several team members raised concerns over the authenticity of James Rossell’s qualifications.
Below is the certificate for James Rossell (Surrey SAR Trustee and member of the management team).
On the face of it it looks genuine and quite clearly implies that James Rossell completed all the requirements for a swift water and flood rescue technician during a course on 10/09/2018 on the River Awe in Scotland. These competencies have to be demonstrated in person and skill sheets are completed and signed off by the instructors. Mr Rossell’s skill sheets were recorded on 0932-0086137 and the instructor was Martin Blaker. If a lay person saw this certificate as evidence of qualification they would have no reason to doubt its authenticity.
However, James Rossell was NOT on that training course.
These are the people that attended
Surrey SAR’s Facebook from the time of the course has lots of photos of the people named above and NONE have Mr Rossell in them, only the people listed on D4H above. Everyone on that course knows that James Rossell did not attend it.
The instructor was Martin Blaker who holds senior roles in the RNLI and DEFRA. He also trains other Lowland Rescue teams. He is also a member of Surrey SAR although he doesn’t attend, has never been trained as a search technician. Mr Blaker was also a Trustee of Lowland Rescue.
Enquiries have been made with Rescue 3 regarding the authenticity of James Rossell’s certificate. Currently a check on their website (http://id.rescue3europe.com/) shows this
However, documentation seen by us from Rescue 3 confirms that it is a genuinely issued certificate and skill sheet 0932-0086137 was completed to support the certification.
As James Rossell was physically not on the course, he could not have demonstrated the skills to the instructor Martin Blaker. This raises integrity questions over Martin Blaker and James Rossell as to how this certificate is in existence.
Tim Rowsell is head of the water rescue team along with James Turnbull, both were on the course along with John Burrell who is also on the management team. Tim Rowsell works for the RNLI and is also a special constable in Surrey Police. He is fully aware of what is going on as many people in the water team raised concerns with him. With his RNLI and policing experience he should know the importance of training to high standards and what goes wrong if unqualified resources are used. Why is he not challenging James Rossell and the other Trustees? We expect better from a police officer and from someone in the RNLI.
Three of the management team were on that training course and none has challenged James Rossell over his certification. We expect better from all of the management team and this lack of challenging inappropriate/illegal behaviour illustrates why the Trustees and Management Team at Surrey SAR are not fit for purpose.
Steve Owen-Hughes (Chief Fire Officer of Surrey Fire and Rescue Service) is aware of this so why is he still allowing Surrey SAR to deploy to water rescue incidents when there are serious concerns over the authenticity of qualifications and training?
Would DEFRA and other organisations give Surrey SAR all of the financial grants if they knew that the qualifications were obtained in these circumstances?
Rescue 3 International are fully aware of what is going on at Surrey SAR and tried to cover it up by removing the bogus certificate from the database after initially confirming it was genuine. Can we trust Rescue 3 International as a training and qualification provider if false certification is issued and they don’t effectively deal with those bring their name into disrepute?
Can we trust Surrey SAR, Lowland Rescue and RNLI training qualifications if signed off by Martin Blaker?
The integrity of Mr Blaker is in question over this matter. He needs to explain how Mr Rossell has been certified as competent without attending the course and demonstrating the skills to him.
Can the public trust Lowland Rescue to provide water rescue assistance if their member units are not genuinely qualified?
There are many more questions surrounding this matter and it needs investigating further and the risk managing. Most importantly, are SFRS are putting lives at risk by using people from Surrey SAR with fraudulent qualifications? We think so and we think that SFRS and Surrey Police need to stop using Surrey SAR for water rescue until genuine proof of training can provided.
*** Rescue 3 declined to comment however they did state that if anyone who has received water rescue training from Surrey SAR or Martin Blaker wants to raise concerns in confidence with Rescue 3 they can contact Keith Dudhnath directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 01978 869069 ***
More disturbing news from the watery world of SurSAR. One of their members, in name only, as he never turns up and doesn’t do any of the training despite supposedly everyone being a Search Technician first and a specialist second, may have been involved in a casual bit of fraud. Still, its all sort of for a good cause, and if you’re a trustee, or one of their friends, we can always bend the rules.
This particular member is very well-respected in the water rescue community due to his skills, was the national lead for water rescue and is a Rescue 3 instructor. It also seems he is something important in the RNLI.
Unfortunately for all concerned we have evidence that suggests he may have been a naughty boy. This individual was a special in the Metropolitan Police and should know what fraud is. It looks like James Rossell has really dropped him in it this time. People on the team are furious at what James Rossell has done, it is common knowledge and flying around on WhatsApp messages between team members and other organisations. SFRS have also leaked documentation too….its not looking good.
Is this why our aquatic friend rapidly stood down as a Trustee of Lowland Rescue last year? Did he get wind that Mr Rossell had been foolish? We think everyone at the needs to come clean and explain to the police how Mr Rossell was able to do what he did as well as cutting links to Surrey SAR to protect his own reputation.
In the mean time, if you have Rescue 3 water qualification from Surrey SAR and signed of by someone at the RNLI, then it may well be moody and you may have wasted your money. Unless you think funding the lifestyle of the rich and famous is a good use of your money, of course.