Sunderland RNLI volunteers part of a multi-agency rescue of female

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteers from Sunderland RNLI were this afternoon part of a major multi-agency rescue operation which took place to rescue a female suffering from Hypothermia from the banks of River Wear at North Hylton, Sunderland shortly after 3:30pm (Sunday, 11 December).

Shortly after 3pm this afternoon Officers based at Humber Coastguard received a ‘999’ emergency call from a female reporting that she had woken up on the river bank and was feeling extremely cold and unable to get herself to safety.

Coastguards initially dispatched Officers from Sunderland Coastguard Rescue team along with Paramedics from Northeast Ambulance Service.

After locating the female (in her 40’s) Coastguards decided that the safest method of evacuation for the patient was to use the River Wear and an inshore lifeboat.

Shortly after 3:35pm Sunderland RNLI volunteer’s pagers were activated and the launch of the inshore lifeboat was approved by the Lifeboat Operations Manager.

Luke McGill, Helmsman at Sunderland RNLI said: ‘Due to the difficult terrain and the distance to the nearest road; it was decided that our lifeboat would be the easiest and safest means of evacuating the patient to safety.’

The female, who had already been placed in a stretcher by Paramedics and Coastguards, was then transferred onto the lifeboat along with a Paramedic from the NE Ambulance HART (Hazardous Area Response Team) for the passage back to Sunderland Marina.

Once at Sunderland Marina the patient was then transferred into a St Johns Ambulance before being transported to Sunderland Royal Hospital suffering from Hypothermia.

Luke added: ‘It is unclear exactly how long this lady had been lying on the riverbank, but we do understand that she had been there most of the day from the previous evening. Thankfully she had the presence of mind to dial 999 this afternoon and ask for help as her location would have made it very unlikely that she would have been seen by another passing individual.’

Shortly before 5pm the lifeboat crew were cleared to the return to their station where the boat and equipment was washed off and cleaned ready for the next emergency call.


Image Notes

(1) Image of patient about to be transferred to the shore from Sunderland RNLI inshore lifeboat. (copyright – RNLI)

(2) Video – footage taken during the actual rescue from one of the RNLI volunteers safety helmets. (copyright – RNLI)

Notes to editors

• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station is the oldest continually operation lifeboat in the United Kingdom. It was originally opened in 1800 before being adopted by the RNLI in 1865.

• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station operates its own website where supporters can keep up to date with station specific activities.

• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station has a profile on Twitter (SunderlandRNLI) and Facebook (RNLI Sunderland) where supporters can keep up to date with station specific activities and news.

• Sunderland RNLI Lifeboat Station operates two inshore type lifeboats: An Atlantic 85 8.3m inflatable capable of 35 knots and a D Class (IB-1) 4.5m inflatable capable of 25 knots.

RNLI media contacts

For more information please telephone:

Paul Nicholson, Sunderland RNLI Press Officer on 07957 494 077 or email - or

As an alternative please contact Alison Levett, Media Relations Manager North on 07786 668 912 or or RNLI Headquarters Public Relations on 01202 336000.

Patient is transferred from Sunderland RNLI inshore lifeboat.

RNLI/Gavin Hughes

Patient is transferred from Sunderland RNLI inshore lifeboat.

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, in a normal year, 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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