Man’s life saved after dramatic throwbag rescue

Speedy staff at a Wearside pub have been hailed as heroes after they sprang into action to help rescue a customer who was in distress in the River Wear.

Chef Tyler Wemyss, patron Matthew Cadas, and the pub’s door supervisor Kieron Hughes have all been praised following their dramatic rescue in Fatfield last month.

Tyler, 19, had initially raised the alarm after spotting a man in the river on his way home from a busy shift at the Fiume restaurant in The River Bar.

The venue had received vital training from Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) and the RNLI in how to deploy a throw-line that had been installed at the bar as part of the Waterside Responder Scheme.

Knowing the vital equipment was close to hand, Tyler alerted his colleagues with door supervisor Kieron joining patron Matthew in helping to perform the rescue.

Together they were able to deploy the throwline and bring the man, who was trapped in the water, back to the river bank.

Crews from TWFRS, and staff from the North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) and Northumbria Police, then arrived on scene to find the man safe and uninjured.

Now Tyler, Matthew and Kieron have been praised by emergency services – who have also reiterated the value of the Waterside Responder Scheme.

The Scheme sees waterside businesses trained in how to deploy a throw-line, an initiative that has already saved eight lives.

This is all timely as this coming Tuesday is World Drowning Prevention Day (July 25th) when a global spotlight is shone on the importance of water safety and the dangers that the sea, rivers, lakes, ponds and any source of open water can pose.  The international campaign states “…anyone can drown, no-one should.”

Steve Thomas, Head of Prevention and Education at TWFRS, said: “It’s wonderful to think that friends and family of people rescued using the throwbags are able to spend more precious time with their loved ones because of an intervention using essential water safety training and equipment.

“We are proud of the Waterside Responder Scheme and our on-going partnership with the RNLI that continues to go from strength-to-strength; helping to train staff from riverside located businesses, and as a result, continuing to save people’s lives.

“I also want to say a massive well done to everyone who sprang into action during the rescue including Tyler, Matthew and Kieron, who all helped to save the man’s life. They should be very proud and deserve this recognition.”

Nick Ayers, RNLI Water Safety Lead for the North and East, said: “We have worked closely with our colleagues at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service to deliver the Waterside Responder programme since 2017.

“The programme includes advice on who to call if someone is in difficulty in the water, how to safely perform a rescue using a throwline and, most importantly, how to prevent such incidents in the first place by delivering a lifesaving message. This is an incredible outcome where the team worked together to ultimately save someone’s life.”

The incident happened in the early hours of Saturday, June 24th, after reports emerged that a young male had been seen in distress in the River Wear.

The TWFRS Fire Control team received a call for assistance from the Police just after midnight to assist with the rescue.

Describing the rescue, Tyler said: “I heard a woman crying on the other side of the road and this was quickly followed by a male voice screaming for help! Without hesitation I ran over to the lady and asked ‘has somebody fallen in to the river’?”

“Other members of staff dashed in to the River Bar and got the throwbag from behind the bar, which was then thrown into the water to help the guy stay afloat.

“I thankfully felt in control of the situation.  My partner helped to calm the lady down whilst I assessed the man who’d fallen in to the river.”

Matthew, 26, a resident of Fatfield for over two-decades, was a customer on the evening of the incident but actually worked as a bar supervisor at the venue, leaving back in 2018.

He and door supervisor Kieron, both used their mobile phone torches to locate the distressed man, before deploying the throwbag.

Matthew said: “My emotions after the incident was that of pride and relief. I was over the moon that the lad was safe.

“It just shows you the importance of the throwbags as another person has now been saved from drowning, and can go back to living their life.”

This has been the second throwbag rescue in Tyne and Wear in recent weeks after a reveller was rescued from Newcastle’s Quayside by bar staff on June 15th.

They had also received training as part of the Waterside Responder Scheme, which is delivered staff at companies who are based at waterside locations.

For further information about the Waterside Responder Scheme and how to sign up please visit the RNLI website by accessing the following link.