Throwlines save a life in Leeds!

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is delighted that a recent initiative to have throwlines installed along the River Aire has saved a life during the recent biting weather!

The throwlines were installed alongside the river in the city centre last year after Leeds fire crews suggested they would give the public a means of helping someone stricken in the water prior to the arrival of emergency services.

In total 11 throwlines have been installed between Neville Street and Asda House in Leeds on both sides.

At approximately 4am on Saturday morning (March 3) the Fire Service received a call to location number 5 which is Riverside Court in Leeds city centre with reports of a female in the water.

White Watch Leeds arrived at the location to find a female casualty in the water clinging onto the throwline which had been successfully deployed by a member of the public.

In temperatures of -2 degrees she managed to hold on long enough for Leeds crews to rescue her using a ladder to assist her from the water.

Watch Commander Phil Rhodes said: “We got there just in time. Had it not been for the throwline she may have perished in the freezing temperatures without something to hold on to.”

The throwlines were installed in April 2017 in conjunction with Leeds City Council.

They are secured in a lock box. On discovering an individual in the water, members of the public should follow the simple instructions on the marker board.

It instructs them to call 999, ask for the fire service and then gives them a padlock code to access the throwline whilst the fire service make their way to the incident.

The marker boards give an accurate location so responding crews know exactly where to attend.

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Ian Bitcon said: “West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service is committed to eliminating deaths by drowning in Leeds City Centre and we will work tirelessly with our partners to achieve this challenging goal. We are delighted that the throwline initiative has paid off and this young woman has been rescued in what were very perilous conditions.

“When anyone enters the water it really is a race against time before cold water shock sets in and even if you are a strong swimmer you can very quickly be in serious trouble.

“Whilst the fire service would be there in a matter of minutes, the throwlines buy people time until the arrival of crews which can make all the difference as we have seen here.”

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service supports the annual Drowning Prevention Week which starts on June 15 this year.

We also support the Royal Life Saving Society’s Don’t Drink and Drown campaign

Cold water kills – and seconds count!

Cold water shock occurs when someone enters cold water. It is a natural human response and causes people to panic and gasp for air but then take on water instead. The cold starts to attack the body so it switches into preservation mode and diverts the warm blood to protect the body’s vital organs.

By doing this it reduces the oxygenated blood circulation to the muscles and fatigue quickly sets in. Even good swimmers can get affected by the condition and can soon get into difficulty.

If you fall into water you should roll on to your back try to remain calm and briefly allow your body to acclimatise to the cold. By being on your back it should be easier to keep your mouth above water if you are gasping for air. After the initial shock try to get someone’s attention to get help or look for a place where you can get yourself out. The more moving you do in the cold water the faster you will run out of energy.

Water rescue figures for Leeds district for the last three years:

  2015 2016 2017
Water rescue incidents 39 17 26
People rescued by firefighters 46 15 18
Fatalities 2 0 3
Injuries 5 7 11