Busy Boat Race Weekend For Chiswick RNLI Crews

Responding to six calls demonstrating how vital the service is on the Thames

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Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat web site


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The need for a dedicated search and rescue service on the Thames was demonstrated again on Boat Race weekend when Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat responded to six calls.

On Friday evening 25th March 2011 Lifeboat crews pulled a man out of the water just after he jumped off Hammersmith Bridge. He was safely transferred into the care of the London Ambulance Service.

On Saturday, just after the start of the Oxford and Cambridge 2011 Boat Race, a following launch struck one of the stake boats, which hold the competing boats at the start. Two RNLI Lifeboats were behind the flotilla of launches following the race in order to patrol the banks as the large wash caused by the following boats can affect people who have ventured too far out onto the foreshore. In this case the Harbour Master requested Chiswick Lifeboat to attend to the stake boat after concerns that one of its crew had been injured.

On arrival they found both crew on the stake boat in good health, although one had slipped on his back; but with no further injury he was able to stay on the board to be recovered by one of the PLA launches. Chiswick RNLI Lifeboats then resumed their role of bank safety.

The next incident came ten minutes later with a call from a Coastguard Liaison Officer, who was on board one of the harbour launches. He reported that a man had been washed off the bank and was seen hanging onto a tree. Chiswick Lifeboat was 100m behind and quickly responded. Two crewmen went onto the bank and assisted the man back onto the tow path and then proceeded with the bank safety patrol.

Three further calls followed in quick succession on Sunday. Chiswick RNLI Lifeboat was asked to respond to a report of a woman who had fallen at Putney. They found the woman lying on the foreshore at Putney, in some distress. It appeared that she had fallen and dislocated her left shoulder. Two crew were placed on shore and administered Entenox for pain relief until an ambulance arrived to deal with the casualty.

On returning to Chiswick the Lifeboat was asked to search for a missing boat, last seen an hour earlier in Putney. It appeared that the owner was expecting his friends in the boat to have returned. The Lifeboat searched from Hammersmith back towards Putney and then proceeded to Fulham where there was a report of a small speed boat, which turned out to be the missing craft. The boat and the persons on board were not in any difficulties, but the Lifeboat did escort the craft back to Putney Pier where the owner was waiting.

Immediately on arrival at Putney they were tasked to another incident and proceeded at full speed to Brentford Eyot. While on route further information was received stating that a man was seen hanging onto a tree. The tide was too low for the lifeboat to go on the Brentford side of the island and after locating the man in question he made his way over to the Lifeboat but refused to leave the island. By this time the tide had risen sufficiently for the Lifeboat to go inside the island and ferry two policemen onto the island with one of the Lifeboat crew. At this point the man then jumped into the water and swam to the shore refusing any assistance. Once ashore he was then taken into custody by the Police, the Lifeboat then ferried the two police officers on the island back to Brentford.

These events last weekend show how essential the Lifeboat service is on the Thames. This is provided by the RNLI, who rely entirely on voluntary contributions to run the search and rescue service throughout the UK and Ireland. Fundraising takes place throughout the year with specific days, such as Lifeboat Day on 3rd May where the charity is highly visible to many members of the public.

David Clarke - Chiswick RNLI


March 29, 2011