RNLI team up with Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service to offer life-saving training in Shrewsbury

The RNLI and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service have delivered the first in a series of training sessions aimed at helping prevent people drowning on the river around Shrewsbury town centre. Shrewsbury Street Pastors were the first to benefit from specialist training to help cut down on the number of incidents of people getting into trouble by falling into the water of the River Severn.

RNLI community safety experts and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service began the first training session last night, helping street pastors to use throw bags which can be used when people get into distress in or near the water. The potentially life-saving throw bags - a 20m floating line used to pull a casualty to safety – are gifted to venues or teams who put staff through the training so they can be used if they spot someone in difficulty in the water.

Shrewsbury Street Pastors is a volunteer-based initiative, with trained representatives patrolling the town centre during busy evening periods to help, care for and listen to those requiring help or support.

The pastors were trained on the dangers that cold water poses and provided with the knowledge and equipment to help rescue people safely. The training will  be rolled out to other groups and organisations in the area such as door staff at the many bars and clubs around the river. The training is part of the Waterside Responder Scheme to help prevent people drowning around rivers and waterways.

Chris Cousens, RNLI Water Safety Lead, said:

‘We know that there are a high number of incidents in Shrewsbury, especially from the night time economy and people finding themselves in the water when they didn’t intend to enter. This training scheme aims to raise awareness of these dangers and ultimately help save lives.

‘It’s great that Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service have become the latest partner to work with the RNLI on the Waterside Responder Scheme and we’re really looking forward to working together to help people enjoy open water in Shropshire more safely and prevent drownings.’

James Sutherland, Road and Water Safety Prevention Officer from Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, said:

“Our crews are regularly called to water rescue incidents across the county, with a large number being in the population hubs.  By providing this training to the Street Pastors in Shrewsbury it is hoped that conversations will take place that stop people getting into the river during a night out. If they do end up in the water, then the Street Pastors will be able to provide an initial response while our crews are enroute.

We would like to thank the RNLI for their support in providing this training. The Waterside Responder Scheme is a brilliant initiative to provide training to the public, not only around the rescue element but also education in some of the prevention messages, which could save a life.

The RNLI and Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service are urging people to remember this basic safety information:

  • People who fall into cold water follow the same instinct, to gasp, thrash about and swim hard. But this is the worst thing to do – it increases chances of water entering your lungs and increases strain on your heart.
  • If you fall into cold water, fight your instinct to swim hard. Instead just float on your back until you can regain control of your breathing before then trying to swim to safety or call for help. You’ll have a far better chance of staying alive.
  • If you see someone else in trouble in the water, fight the instinct to go in yourself. Call 999 or 112. If you are at the coast, ask for the coastguard. If you are inland by a river or waterway, ask for the fire and rescue service.
4th February, 2022