Fast-thinking bar staff have been hailed heroes after they used life-saving equipment to perform a water rescue in the River Tyne.
Husband and wife Godo and Charlotte Takacs both work at the Pitcher and Piano on Newcastle’s Quayside but played the role of lifesavers in the rescue last month.
Earlier this year the pair had received vital training from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) on how to use throw-lines.
So when they were alerted to a man in difficulty in the River Tyne during a busy afternoon shift they knew exactly what to do.
Godo, 37, has described how he and Charlotte, 33, grabbed the throw-line from behind the bar and came to the man’s aid.
He recalls how a member of the public, who works in a nearby office, called 999 while the couple deployed the throw-line.
Godo, who lives in Whickham with his wife after re-locating to the region from Manchester two-years ago, said: “We kept shouting at the guy, swim towards us, we can help you.
“The man in the water was quickly picking up speed as the tide was taking him along the river at pace.
“I knew the venue had its own throw-bags and the main pointers of the water safety training were still clear in my mind.
“After grabbing the bags we ran along the quayside towards the Ouseburn apartments, as at this time the guy had turned on to his back and it was evident he was panicking.
“At one stage the person’s eyes had rolled back which was quite frightening so we knew the throw-bag was key to rescuing him. We managed to pull him over to the river bank where he stayed until the arrival of the fire boat.”
The incident happened on the afternoon of Thursday, August 24th, after reports emerged that a man had been seen in distress in the River Tyne.
The TWFRS Fire Control team received an emergency call at 12.53pm saying that a throw-bag had been deployed by a member of the public to help rescue the casualty.
Three appliances from Byker and Gateshead and the Fire Boat were deployed to the incident with the first crew being on scene within seven-minutes from the initial call.
The casualty was left in the hands of paramedics but, thanks to the intervention of Godo and Charlotte, did not suffer any life-threatening injuries.
Godo, General Manager at the Pitcher and Piano, added: “It was such a relief to see the firefighters as then we knew the man would be safe.
“The throw-bag and the knowledge from the training definitely helped to save the person’s life.
“I will be pushing for all of our staff to receive multiple training sessions about how to use the throw-bags as we’ve now witnessed first-hand how they can be real lifesavers.”
TWFRS and the RNLI have revealed that the rescue means nine people’s lives have been saved as a result of throw-line training delivered to businesses.
Their Waterside Responder Scheme was developed six years ago and since its conception, hundreds of staff at waterside businesses have received free water rescue equipment and training.
TWFRS and the RNLI were also vital in securing the installation of throw-line boards along the banks of the River Tyne, and at other locations across Tyne and Wear, which were in association with Newcastle City Council and Sunderland City Council.
Those boards have also contributed to a number of life-saving rescues, highlighting the importance of having such equipment close to hand.
Firefighter Tommy Richardson, Education and Engagement officer TWFRS, has today praised the response of Godo and Charlotte.
He said: “We are so proud of Godo and Charlotte as their actions have helped to save someone from drowning and ultimately saved their life.
“Yet again the benefits of the Waterside Responder Scheme are clear to see as now nine people are back with their families and carrying on with their lives thanks to training being delivered by ourselves and the RNLI.
“We would encourage any waterside-based businesses, to get in touch and sign up their staff for the training – they don’t have to be from the hospitality sector – as the outcome could be a matter of life or death.”
Nick Ayers, RNLI Regional Water Safety Lead said: “This is fantastic to see, again another life has been saved through this voluntary program. The fast reactions and cool heads and the training delivered by the fire and rescue service along with our volunteers has been the saving here.
“I would encourage any waterside venue to sign up to the programme, simply visit the following link to sign up – https://rnli.org/safety/throw-bag-training”.
For further information about the Waterside Responder Scheme and how to sign up please visit the RNLI website by accessing the following link https://rnli.org/safety/throw-bag-training
Please note – the rescued gentleman hadn’t been a patron in the Pitcher and Piano on the day in question.