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Chiswick's lifeboat crew saves early morning swimmer

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Chiswick Lifeboat crew carried out another lifesaving rescue in Richmond on Tuesday morning 16th May.

Three friends had decided to take an early morning dip in the Thames. One thought better of it straight away, another swam quickly back to shore but the third was swept away in the fast-ebbing tide.

An off-duty WPC on her way to work saw the man in difficulties and phoned the coastguard on 999. At 06.49 he requested Chiswick lifeboat to attend the scene.

The crew made the best speed possible, as there were a number of early morning rowers, and arrived at Richmond lock at 07.01. The crew saw police on the river bank further upstream and soon found the casualty clinging onto the mooring ropes of a cruiser moored between two small islands, known to the river community as “The Flowerpots”.

Helmsman Mark Finnis carefully brought the lifeboat alongside the casualty, mechanic Steve Alexander and crewman Ed Hall hauled him into the lifeboat. After a first aid assessment, it was clear that he had suffered no serious injuries.

He was taken to the shore close to the White Cross public house and passed into the care of the police and the paramedics from the London Ambulance Service.

Steve Alexander said “He wouldn’t have been able to hang on much longer as hypothermia would have started to set in. Luckily, we were able to arrive in time to prevent a tragedy”. The Thames lifeboat crews at Chiswick, Waterloo and Gravesend are in permanent readiness 24/7, 365 days a year, and can be on the water within 2 minutes of an emergency call.

The RNLI has 233 lifeboat stations including four on the Thames. Chiswick RNLI lifeboat became operational on the 2nd January 2002. Since then it has responded to 903 emergency calls. The four Thames lifeboats together have responded to over 3000 calls. The RNLI is entirely supported by voluntary contributions.

May 17, 2006