Bar staff save a life after water safety training

Lifeboats News Release

In the early hours of last Sunday morning, staff working at Gateshead’s new container community, By the River Brew Co, responded as a man jumped into the River Tyne from the Newcastle quayside and attempted to swim across the river.

RNLI/Nicola Quinn

Ben, By the River Brew Co, and Tommy, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service using the throw bag by the River Tyne

Using the skills learned during the Community Responder training delivered by the RNLI and the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service the previous week, bar managers, Phil Hall and Ben Anderson, quickly picked up a throwbag and ran across the Swing Bridge where they could see the man in the water. One called to the man and threw him the bag, while the other dialled 999 to raise the alarm. Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service arrived on scene and their Swift Water Rescue Team (SWRT) was dispatched to swim and rescue the man from the water.

Nick Ayers, RNLI Community Safety Partner, said: ‘This life saved is testament to the importance of the Community Responder programme. Our water safety training delivered with partners at the Fire Service not only provides staff with the knowledge and equipment to be able to save a life, but also instils confidence to be able to react quickly in a dynamic situation, such as someone jumping into the water. Research tells us that around a quarter of all adult drowning victims have alcohol in their bloodstream. The vibrant community working on the River Tyne is best placed to respond first to an emergency situation in the water and we urge other venues to sign up – their staff could help save a life this summer.’

Graham Moffett, By the River Brew Co Operations Manager, said: 'The water safety training was extremely informative and we saw its value within a week of taking part. Our team now have the essential knowledge needed to deal with a possible scenario where we are first responders. We have proven the training works and we are very proud of the guys for reacting so quickly. This is a scheme that all waterside operators would benefit from and we would recommend everybody gets involved in this training.'

Lynsey McVay, TWFRS Area Manager, said: ‘This is a great example of the community responding in a real emergency. The bar staff were brilliant in following their throwbag training in the most dramatic of circumstances. Our crews responded quickly and we were all able to work together to rescue someone and avoid a potential tragedy. The gentleman was then handed over to the North East Ambulance Service.

‘This incident proves just how important and effective throw bag provision and training is, particularly for those who work near the river. This enables the bar staff to have the confidence to deal with life threatening incidents. We would also welcome any other companies – particularly hospitality companies located near open water - to consider how we can help train them and their staff.’

The RNLI’s Community Safety team have worked in partnership with Tyne and Wear Firefighters to deliver the training to over 40 staff from the new container community. The team have now learned how to use a throw bag and what to do if the public get into trouble in or near the water. The lifesaving throw bag, a 20m floating line, is used to pull a person to safety and is located in the venue for staff to access easily in an emergency situation.

The RNLI and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service are appealing for other riverside venues, managers and staff at pubs, bars and restaurants to take part in the training. Sign up here today: www.rnli.org/pages/throw-bag-training.

The Community Responder Scheme was launched in Tyne and Wear in November 2017, dedicated to the memory of Ross Irwin, a 22-year-old who accidentally drowned in the River Wear on his way home from a Christmas night out with his friends the previous year.

The initiative supports the RNLI’s annual national drowning prevention campaign, Respect the Water. The campaign aims to raise awareness of the potential dangers of the water and take steps to minimise the risk of being in or near water. It is part of the charity’s drive to halve the number of accidental coastal deaths by 2024.

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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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