Dog and owner helped to safety thanks to throwline board

A man and his dog were helped to safety from frozen water thanks to a throwline board and Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service.

As the man prepared to enter the frozen water to rescue his dog, members of the public followed the instructions on the throwline board, called Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service and used the throwline to help him.

TWFRS Control took the emergency call on Friday afternoon, advising the caller to try to encourage people not to put themselves in danger and reassured them, crews from Washington Fire Station were on the way to help.

Control Room staff had also alerted North East Ambulance Service who were stood down when the man said he would seek his own medical assistance.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Peter Heath said: “Fortunately this incident was not a tragedy, thanks to the members of the public who called us and used the throwline correctly and our white watch Control Room staff who were brilliant at advising the caller and having constant communication with crews and NEAS.

“Within seconds the code for the locked throwline was given and crews were mobilised. The dog owner kept a hold of the line while entering the water while someone on the water’s edge had the other end. Firefighters did not have to attend.

“Our advice for dog walkers is the same as the Royal Life Saving Society, when walking near frozen water, keep your pet on a lead at all times and stay away from the water’s edge. If your dog does enter the water do not go in after it. Instead, move to somewhere that the dog will be able to climb out and call them towards you. If they are unable to get themselves out, call for help.

“If you enter cold or frozen water there’s the very real danger of cold water shock which can be fatal and the risk of more people putting themselves in danger to come to your rescue.”

Cllr Fiona Miller, Cllr Tony Taylor, TWFRS Assistant Chief Fire Officer Peter Heath, and firefighter Tommy Richardson, with the newly installed Throwline at Mount Pleasant Lake, Fatfield, Washington.

The throwline boards at Mount Pleasant Lake and Pattinson South Pond in James Steel Park, Fatfield were put in place in February 2020 as part of Water Safety Partnership with Sunderland City Council.

They were in addition to an existing throwline board opposite the Biddick Inn at Fatfield riverside, which was installed after the death of 22-year-old Ross Irwin in December 2016.

Throwlines are secured in a lockbox which can be opened with a code available by dialling 999 and speaking to the emergency services.

Councillor Linda Williams, Cabinet Member for Vibrant City at Sunderland City Council, said: “When we installed the throwline just over a year ago we hoped it would never need to be used but we’re really pleased to see it successfully serving its purpose.

“We would urge dog walkers to keep their dogs on a lead when they’re out walking and well away from areas of open water. It’s also really important that everyone takes extra care during the wintery weather to stay away from the water’s edge.”

Councillor Tony Taylor, Councillor for Washington East and Chairman of the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, who campaigned for and helped fundraise for the throwline, added: “This rescue shows the valuable contribution throwline boards can make at locations like this alongside existing water safety measures.

“I’d also like to praise the quick-thinking members of the public who sprang into action and used the throwline to rescue the dog owner and his dog – they did a brilliant job and potentially helped save a life.