Saving lives on the Tyne

Quayside bars in Newcastle are taking part in a pilot scheme that will literally throw a lifeline to people who fall into the River Tyne.

Licensed premises are being equipped with flotation aids that can be thrown into the Tyne and used to reel in people who fall into the water.

It follows a number of river related incidents attended by emergency services some which resulted in fatalities.

If the initiative is successful it could be extended to other parts of the river.

The scheme is a partnership between Newcastle City Council, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, NE1 Ltd and the company which makes the aids known as throw bags and is donating them for free.

Chair of Safe Newcastle, Cllr Nick Kemp, said: “Sadly people do fall into the Tyne and the consequences can be fatal. It can also be traumatic for people who witness it but at least these throw bags will give them a fighting chance of trying to rescue them.

“If the scheme is successful we will look to roll this out to other licensed premises on the Tyne.”

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Alan Robson said: “The advantage of this flotation aid is that it is fastened to a rope. When it is thrown, and if the person in the water misses it, it can be retrieved and thrown again. With a life buoy you only get one chance.

“Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue will offer to train door staff and bar staff who want to use these flotation aids for free. It’s not instead of lifebuoys but an additional measure that can be taken to help people in difficulties.

“This is an important and timely pilot for us to be involved with given that it is the start of Water Safety Week on April 24th. This is an initiative that we are fully supportive of.”

Adrian Waddell, Director of Operations at NE1 Ltd said: “NE1 Ltd strongly supports this initiative and is promoting it to its business members in the leisure sector, especially those operating near the river, to raise awareness about the water safety scheme and to drum up their support and involvement.

“We are targeting all pubs and clubs based on the Quayside near to the River encouraging them to get involved and support the project and have been delighted by the response.

“We want to make Newcastle one of the safest places for nights out and river safety is of paramount importance.   It’s a great scheme and we look forward to it being rolled out in the city and more widely in the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service area.”