Chiswick Lifeboat in Island Rescue

Seventeen saved from rising tide at Chiswick Eyot

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17 people were rescued by Chiswick RNLI lifeboat from Chiswick Eyot just before it was covered by the rapidly flooding spring tide. The party including 2 children were exploring the island on Saturday 12 March after walking across the river bed from Chiswick Mall. They failed to notice the rising tide and were soon cut off. One of the party called 999.

At 1.15pm the London Coastguard called out Chiswick RNLI lifeboat which arrived at the scene within 5 minutes. The helmsman put the boat onto the shore of the island. All 17 were safely taken on board by the three crew.

The 9m E-Class lifeboat is intended to carry 20 survivors but the maximum carried in previous incidents was half that number. Helmsman Alan Hudson said ”Even with that number on board the boat was very stable and there was still room for the 3 crew to handle the boat safely”; he added “By the time we brought the survivors to shore the island was under water.”

The tide on this part of the River Thames behaves differently from the coast as it takes 8 hours to ebb but only 4 to flood. This means that during spring tides the river level rises very rapidly covering a tidal range of upto 6 metres.

The largely volunteer RNLI crews are trained to recover and treat casualties. The RNLI Lifeboats carry lifejackets for survivors and blankets to prevent further heat loss as well as extensive first aid equipment including oxygen. The RNLI has an active fleet of 323 lifeboats including four on the Thames. In 2004 Chiswick Lifeboat was one of the busiest lifeboat stations in the UK recovering 116 people. The RNLI is entirely supported by voluntary contributions.

March 14, 2005