Exercise tests response to major emergency in the River Mersey

Lifeboats News Release

Emergency services and other organisations are working together this morning (21 November) as part of an exercise involving a scenario of an incident involving an aeroplane in the River Mersey.

RNLI/Chris Cousens

New Brighton RNLI lifeboat volunteers are involved in today's multi agency operation near Liverpool Airport

The event involves the Maritime & Coastguard Agency in the form of HM Coastguard, Merseyside Fire & Rescue service, Liverpool Airport Rescue and Firefighting Service, North West Ambulance Service and the RNLI.

In the scenario, the incident at the River Mersey happens after the pilot has been taken ill while on the approach to Liverpool’s John Lennon airport.

Emergency services are quickly sent in response in a race to rescue the ten people on board. HM Coastguard’s search and rescue helicopter will be involved in a winching exercise from a Royal Navy ship.

The exercise will look at how each organisation responds, how they work together and what lessons can be learned.

Danny Jamson, senior coastal operations officer for HM Coastguard (the search and rescue arm of the Maritime & Coastguard Agency) said: ‘We’re training for the day we hope will never come but we need to make sure that if the worst happens, we can operate search and rescue in a way that will increase the chances of saving lives in an emergency.’

Team Leader Marine, Ian Kay, from Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, said: ‘This is an incident we hope we’ll never see – but we must prepare for different kinds of emergencies.

‘The best way to test our response is to run a training exercise from which we can learn. By taking part in this exercise, we can build experience and gather knowledge which could be put to effective use in a real emergency response.

‘This prepares Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service as an agency while giving us the opportunity to work alongside partners, developing constructive ways of working together.

‘Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service plays an integral role in this type of incident because of our ability to provide an immediate specialist response. Our Marine Rescue Unit, Search and Rescue Team and Fire Crews provide 24/7 cover to incidents both on the river and on land.’

Neil Gyllenship, Fire Service Manager for Liverpool John Lennon Airport said: ‘Unlike most other UK airports, Liverpool has the advantage of being located adjacent to a wide estuary which helps to minimise the environmental and noise impacts of an airport on local communities, however this can also bring challenges in the event of an emergency situation.

‘A river response is already incorporated into all our emergency procedures but an exercise like this is invaluable in testing and improving upon those plans in place.’

Ian Thornton, Lifeboat Operations Manager at New Brighton RNLI, said: ‘These kind of multi-agency training scenarios provide our volunteer lifeboat crew members with a fantastic opportunity to hone our skills in dealing with major incidents and working closely with our emergency service colleagues to achieve the best outcome.’

Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Chris Cousens, RNLI Regional Media Officer, Wales and North West England, on 07748 265496 or chris_cousens@rnli.org.uk.

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.

Learn more about the RNLI

For more information please visit the RNLI website or Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. News releases, videos and photos are available on the News Centre.

Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or or by email.