West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) is extending thanks to two men who helped crews in a water rescue in Leeds yesterday morning (11.06.19). Hayden Harris, a passenger in a water taxi, and Richard Ferdinand, the driver, were travelling down Leeds Dock when people on the riverbank alerted them to a man in the water.
Richard steered the taxi towards the man and kept it steady while Hayden leant over the boat and turned the man face-up in the water. The two then held him afloat for 15 minutes until our specialist water rescue crews, who were alerted at 09.41 hrs via the Control Room, were able to get on scene and rescue the man from the water.
The casualty was then taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
Station Manager Steve Holt, who attended the scene as a Technical Rescue Officer, said: “The brave actions by Hayden and Richard saved the older gentleman’s life. They managed to stabilise the situation until we arrived to assist to bring him out of the water safely. Without their intervention we could be looking at a very tragic outcome, so I can’t praise them enough.”
Hayden said: “We were just going past Brewery Wharf when we heard people screaming from the riverbank that there was someone in the water. It looked like bags from a distance but as I got closer I could see it was a man and could see some air bubbles. I knew we had to get to him before the bubbles ran out.
“We couldn’t lift him in as we were leaning so far over so all we could do was hold him in place. So we did that – holding on for dear life for 15 minutes. Then another water taxi brought over the firefighters and they were fantastic. I was so relieved to see the man open his eyes – and then I offered him a cup of tea and we had a little joke.
“The firefighters were wonderful – and I’m just glad Richard was there too. Adrenaline rushes through you, I just kept thinking we have got to save this man. Honestly though, it was an honour to be involved and I just hope he turns out to be ok.”
Richard added: “I’ve had to help people in the water a few times sadly, these incidents are more regular than you’d like. I kept my head though. I think the gentleman was extremely lucky – I would guess he only had seconds left. Hayden and the fire service were brilliant though – we all worked together to help save him.”
The incident, which was the second water rescue in Leeds in just 24 hours, happened just two days before the start of National Drowning Prevention Week, led by the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS).
National Drowning Prevention Week runs between 14-24 June 2019 and aims to reduce the number of drowning and non-fatal drowning incidences that occur in the UK every year, by showing people how to be safe and have fun near water.
To find out more visit https://www.rlss.org.uk/drowning-prevention-week
West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service will be supporting the week via our Twitter @WYFRS and official Facebook page.
Please also visit our website www.westyorksfire.gov.uk