The value of having the RNLI dedicated search and rescue service on the Thames was shown again this weekend with a sequence of serious incidents.
On Saturday morning (28 October) the Chiswick RNLI lifeboat was called to a report of a rowing coach who had collapsed in his vessel near Kew Bridge.
When the crew arrived, the London Ambulance Service paramedics were already dealing with the casualty after the young rowers he was coaching had helped bring the coach’s vessel to shore.
The young rowers were very cold and at least one had been into the water. They were taken on board the lifeboat, given blankets and taken back to their rowing club.
The second shout was also to Kew Bridge where there was a concern that a person in distress might end up in the river. The UK Coastguard had called Chiswick lifeboat in case this occurred. Happily on this occasion the police on the bridge were able prevent this happening.
The third shout came in the afternoon to four veteran rowers whose boat had been holed in Syon Reach and was in danger of sinking. All four were taken on board the lifeboat along with their craft and taken back to their base.
On Sunday afternoon the crew had some light relief when they spotted a dolphin in Corney Reach making its way downstream. The sighting attracted a lot of attention from passers-by, one of whom took a video that was shown on the BBC London breakfast news on Monday.
The lifeboat crew have seen dolphins, porpoises and seals in this part of the Thames from time to time including a seal who lived for nearly a year near Chiswick Pier.
An RNLI spokesman commented: ‘At the start of a pleasant autumn morning with light winds It promised to be a quiet day. This weekend showed how incidents can develop unpredictably. The rapid response to a varied series of incidents again showed the value of having the RNLI 24/7 dedicated search and rescue service on the Thames. We encourage anyone seeing someone in difficulties in the river to call 999’