Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat Station Staying Operational

Crew releases a video to cheer everyone up at this difficult time

PPE for Thames lifeboat crew. Picture: RNLI

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The RNLI Lifeboat crews based at Chiswick Pier have remained operational during the current pandemic.

In the weeks since the start of the lockdown Chiswick RNLI lifeboat crews have been busy. They have rescued many people cut off by the tide, a suspected spinal injury after a fall, and some kayakers.

RNLI helmsman Andy Mayo said ‘People taking their permitted daily exercise have been caught out in several incidents. We have seen the Thames towpath busy like a sunny Bank Holiday every day of the week with walkers, joggers and cyclists. Some have been walking along the foreshore. We have had to rescue those who have been tempted to walk over to islands at low tide. The tide rises very rapidly especially in last week’s high spring tides. We have rescued many over the years who have got in trouble while going for a walk by the river not knowing that the Thames is tidal in London.’

The Thames lifeboat crews are changing their operating procedures to protect themselves so they can continue their lifesaving work. The crews have been split into nine teams, each doing a 24 hour shift. There is no mixing of crews or physical contact at changeover. This change in rostering means that if one team has to self-isolate another team can step in.

Crews on the coast who operate on pagers have also changed their procedures. Regular training has been suspended. Crews will only attend when there is a shout, and wait in their cars until selected.

The RNLI already provides its lifeboat crews with extensive PPE equipment. The crew always use protective gloves when handling casualties and wear helmets with full face visors. Crews are now equipped in addition with safety glasses and a FFP3 3000 series respirator mask. When dealing with casualties they will also wear fully a sealed drysuit with built in boots and the standard Gecko helmet with visor, torch and camera. Andy added ‘much thought has gone into how we can safely continue operating, our enhanced procedures should ensure we can continue to help people in trouble by the river’.

The current situation hasn't meant a loss of a sense of humour and the station has released 'a public information' video to raise spirits during the lockdown.


Chiswick RNLI lifeboat station is the second busiest in the UK and Ireland. Since The RNLI search and rescue service on the Thames started in 2002, Chiswick Lifeboat has attended over 3,500 incidents and rescued over 1,750 people. The RNLI is entirely funded by public donations.

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April 13, 2020

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