Teddington RNLI rescue woman from the Thames with just seconds to spare
The Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station volunteer crew were tasked by HM Coastguard to launch at 9.20pm on Sunday night (July 8) following reports of a woman in the River Thames near Eel Pie Island, Twickenham.
The Teddington RNLI D-Class Inshore Lifeboat (ILB) D-743 Olwen and Tom was launched in rapid time and arrived on scene within a few minutes of the crew receiving the launch alert.
The lifeboat was crewed by helm Howard Evans with crew Jon Chapman and Mark Gibbs. ‘When we found out that we possibly had a person in the water, we were all focused on a swift launch and locating the casualty quickly for obvious reasons,’ said Howard.
Teddington Lifeboat Station has two lifeboats on call and Jon Barker, helm of Teddington RNLI D-Class Inshore Lifeboat (ILB)’ D-785 Peter Saw, was on standby with an additional crew if they were needed to assist in the rescue.
‘It was a superb launch of the first boat and a great team effort by our shore crew to get the second lifeboat ready on the slip by the River Thames just in case,’ said Jon Barker.
As the lifeboat drew nearer to Eel Pie Island, Mark Gibbs spotted the casualty in the water on her back and with her face submerged. ‘There she is in the water by the pontoon,’ he shouted and pointed to help Howard steer the boat to the exact location.
Jon Chapman and Mark then jumped onto the nearby pontoon and were able to grab hold of the woman’s arms and get her face out of the water, before recovering her to the pontoon.
‘I knew we had to move fast, time was not on our side,’ added Mark. ‘People can suffer from cold water shock even in the summer. It causes the blood vessels in the skin to close, heart rate is increased and it can cause heart attacks, even in the relatively young and healthy’.
It was understood the woman’s husband had earlier been in the Thames himself trying to rescue her but had not been able to do it. He was being looked after by the emergency services while the Teddington crew carried out the rescue.
‘After we finally extracted the casualty from the water to the pontoon, and carried out an initial assessment, we were relieved to find that she was still breathing, though not in a good way, so we decided to do an immediate evacuation to the waiting ambulance crews on the opposite side of the river,’ said Jon Chapman.
‘The crews speed in extracting her from the water, the dynamic first aid assessment on extraction and putting her safely into the lifeboat meant we were able to transfer her calmly to the waiting emergency services ashore,’ explained Howard.
The Teddington RNLI Lifeboat crew were assisted by Police, Fire and London Ambulance Service crews on scene.
‘It was a really great team effort by all emergency services involved,’ added Mark.
Howard summed up the shout by saying: ‘It was one of those calls from the public to the emergency services when they saw someone in distress that made a difference that night. We don’t know exactly how the woman got into the water. We are just delighted that it was a positive outcome for all involved.’
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Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland
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.