RNLI lifeboat crew rescue boy, 12, after 26ft fall onto River Thames foreshore

Lifeboats News Release

Lifeboat crew members in London went to the rescue after a 12-year-old boy fell from the River Thames embankment onto the foreshore 26ft below – the equivalent of a two storey house.

The incident took place on Saturday evening after reports that the child had fallen from the bank near the Cutty Sark pub on Ballast Quay. It is believed he had been playing on the embankment when he slipped and fell onto the ground below.

And today the lifesaving charity decided to release video footage showing the lifeboat crew and paramedics assisting him, in the hope it will encourage others to be extremely careful whenever they are on or near water.

The lifeboat crew from Tower RNLI lifeboat station – situated near Waterloo Bridge – were tasked by London Coastguard at 9.15pm and within 90 seconds were en-route to Greenwich.

When they arrived paramedics from London Ambulance Service (LAS) were already at the scene treating the boy, as Jai Gudgion, Tower RNLI lifeboat Helmsman, explained: ‘The ambulance service were already in attendance and they had requested the lifeboat as they were unsure how they were going to get the lad off the foreshore, given the height.

‘Myself and volunteer crew member Adam Garland, who is a doctor, went ashore to help. We took our orange basket stretcher to safely put the boy in and some blankets to keep him warm. He was conscious as we helped treat him but obviously he and his parents were very shaken and worried, as any parent would be. He had mud over his face and no obvious cuts, but paramedics were concerned about some swelling on his hip.’

Shortly after, two London air ambulance doctors arrived by road and carried out further assessments and treatment whilst still on the foreshore. It was decided to transfer the boy up to the ambulance, and by that time the tide had receded enough that the teams could carry the stretcher around 100m along the foreshore to some stairs.

Jai said: ‘We helped the LAS team get him to the land ambulance and once they were safely away we headed back to the lifeboat station. We believe he was OK but no doubt it was a terrifying  experience for him and his family. He was very lucky too – the hard floor was uneven with rocks and bits of metal sticking up. It could have been so much worse.’

Adam Robson, RNLI Community Incident Reduction Manager for London, said: ‘‘The RNLI always encourages people to be really careful whenever they are near rivers or the sea, and just because the Thames runs through a busy city doesn’t mean it’s any less safe if people aren’t careful.

‘It appears this young boy slipped and fell from the bank onto the foreshore. Watching the video really hits home that it’s every parent’s worst nightmare, not knowing how badly your child is injured and watching helplessly as emergency services care for them. It’s not an easy watch, but if it reminds people to respect the water, and if it prevents even one person getting into difficulty or getting injured, we think it’s important to share it.’

The research carried out as part of the RNLI’s national ‘Respect the Water’ safety campaign shows that around half the people who drown every year never expected to get wet – many get caught out by unexpected slips, trips and falls into the water.

To find out more about sea and river safety, visit www.rnli.org/safety/respect-the-water

RNLI media contacts

• Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East) on 0207 6207426, 07785 296252  tim_ash@rnli.org.uk
• James Oxley, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East)
0207 6207425 / 07786 668825 James_oxley@rnli.org.uk
For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

Key facts about the RNLI

The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.

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