Woman Found Floating Unconscious in Thames

Chiswick RNLI praised for their role in saving dramatic lifesaving operation

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The crew of Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat Station in London were involved in a dramatic lifesaving operation on Monday 2nd March, when they came to the aid of a woman who was found floating unconscious in the River Thames.

The quick-thinking lifeboat crew assisted paramedics with intensive Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) using a heart defibrillator on the woman, who is believed to have entered the water near to Hammersmith.

Chiswick’s E-class lifeboat was launched at 5.04pm following reports of a woman in the water. They arrived to find a ‘Tinfish’ vessel near to Furnivall rowing club, its occupant, rowing Coach Henry Adams, was clinging on to the casualty and holding her head above the water.

The crew discovered the woman was not breathing and had no pulse, and promptly moored alongside Furnivall Rowing Club’s pontoon so that a paramedic could come aboard. It quickly became apparent that advanced life support was required.

Wayne Bellamy, Station Manager at Chiswick Royal National Lifeboat Institution station, said, "Gary continued to administer CPR, pausing only for the paramedics to use the defibrillator to shock the casualty on the deck of the lifeboat.

"After some time spent doing CPR and using the defibrillator, faint signs of life became apparent. CPR was taken over by Helmsman, Paul Harrison, while paramedics, Helmsman Gary Tiller and Duty Helmsman Iain Archibald prepared the casualty for transport. By this point the casualty had a reasonable pulse and CPR was discontinued. She was then transferred to the nearby ambulance for further treatment."

The lifeboat then returned to station. At 7.55pm information was received from police at the hospital that the casualty was still alive but was in a critical condition and unlikely to last the night.

However, the lifeboat crew was delighted to receive news the following morning that the woman was stable. Wayne Bellamy said, ‘We discovered that she survived the night and was this morning sitting up, talking, and taking refreshments."

He added, "‘I am extremely proud of my lifeboat crew here at Chiswick RNLI for their quick action and their calm and considered lifesaving work under extreme pressure and a very tense environment.

"I also pay tribute to the amazing efforts of the rowing coach who assisted with the rescue and indeed to those who alerted the authorities to the sighting of this woman. I understand he managed to take hold of her and hold her head above water until the lifeboat crew arrived.

"This is clearly a case where, were it not for the intervention of this coach, the public who rang 999 and the RNLI lifeboat crew, this woman would have died."

March 4, 2009