The public to the rescue with our new throw bag pilot

This May we’re launching an exciting new throw bag pilot in London and Kent to train local bar and security staff on how to use throw bags to save lives when people get into trouble in the water near their venue.

Throw bag being used in Kingston

Nathan Williams

How did the pilot come about?

Around 400 people drown each year in the UK and a significant proportion of these drownings are related to the night-time economy, often involving the consumption of alcohol. This is largely because if someone finds themselves in difficulty in an environment that isn’t normally associated with bathing or water use, specialist help is often not readily available.

Through this pilot, we’re giving local community groups like bar staff, venue security staff, street cleaners and council workers the opportunity to understand the dangers of the local waterways and gain the knowledge, skills and confidence they need to be able to recover someone from the water and report the rescue.

Onsite training will be given by qualified RNLI personnel – such as lifeguards, crew members or Flood Rescue team members – who are local to the signed up establishments. Throw bags, manuals and quick reference key rings will be provided as part of the training. We’ll also be encouraging regular communication and feedback for those who are trained and are saving lives.

Dedicated to James Clark

The throw bag pilot is dedicated to the memory of James Clark, this is the first RNLI pilot to be dedicated to the memory of someone who has lost their life to drowning.

You may recall the tragic accident in July 2005 when 19-year-old James Clark drowned in the Thames at Kingston after a night out with his friends. Since this time his mother, Andrea Corrie, has been campaigning for improved safety measures along that stretch of the Thames and has been a dedicated supporter of our drowning prevention work.

In the video below, Andrea Corrie talks about the loss of her son James, the changes that she’s helped to make along the river at Kingston upon Thames, and how valuable the throw bag training has already been in this area.

This connection to James’ story is so important for the pilot as it shows that training members of the public to use throw bags will help to save lives.

What happens next?

The throw bag pilot will be focused on two waterside locations – London and Kent – working alongside the Respect The Water Pub Pack.

After the summer, the Community Safety team will be looking at the results of the pilot to see how we can roll it out across the UK and Ireland in 2018. Stay tuned to the Volunteer Zone to hear more about the pilot.