People often ask how social media can help organisations. At Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service it has proved a key way of warning and informing during operational incidents - but the lesser reported success is how it connects the Service with individuals to make a lasting difference to the community.
by Kate Hall
Now the Service is able to share how a single tweet led to a heart wrenching water safety education campaign - and a national award for a volunteer.
Beckie Ramsay became a volunteer for GMFRS in 2012 - and it all started with this tweet sent in response to live tweeting from @manchesterfire about how it was working to keep the community safe:
“Would love to have contact about water safety and see if we could have a chat about educating kids futher”
Tragically, Beckie’s 13-year-old son, Dylan, drowned in a quarry three years ago and she has since been tirelessly campaigning about the dangers of open water to try and protect other young people.
Knowing the power of real life case studies and the impact it can have on people, the Service immediately got in touch with Beckie to see what they could do together to make people safer around water.
It led to a campaign that has touched the hearts of thousands people.
Responding to Beckie’s tweet, the Corporate Communications team put her in touch with the Service’s Prevention team who recruited her as a volunteer for the Service.
Now, for more than a year, Beckie has joined firefighters at schools, youth groups and at community and water safety events and spoken passionately about the dangers of swimming in open water.
To spread Beckie’s powerful message even further, she worked with GMFRS’ Multi-media Officer to produce a water safety video where she told the story of what happened to Dylan.
He was swimming at Hill Top Quarry in Whittle-le-Woods, near Chorley in July 2011 when he got into difficulty. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
At the time, Beckie said: “As Dylan's mum, I want people to know that Dylan was a strong lad and a very capable swimmer, despite this he still found himself in trouble and unable to swim a short distance to safety.”
Now Beckie has been given a RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) Guardian Angel Award, presented to individuals whose commitment to safety and accident prevention is displayed through personal initiative and enthusiasm.
Chief Executive of RoSPA, Tom Mullarkey said: “It is for Beckie’s exceptional commitment to accident prevention that she has received an Archangel Award.
“Through the grief of losing Dylan, Beckie has developed an incredibly powerful and poignant determination.
“The presentations she gives in schools across the North West always make a lasting impression on the young people she shares her story with, encouraging them to think about the risks around water.”
GMFRS Director of Corporate Communications, Shelley Wright said: “We’re really proud of Beckie and everything she has achieved.
“Despite losing her teenage son in such tragic circumstances, thanks to her determination thousands of young people across Greater Manchester are now better informed about water safety and the dangers of swimming in open water.
“With Beckie’s help, our campaign work is a fitting lasting legacy to Dylan’s memory – and it all started with a tweet.”
Kate Hall is senior communications officer with Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Services
Image via Greater Manchester Fire & Rescue Services