Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service throwbag training with waterside businesses sees 4 lives saved in 2 months

Tyne and Wear Fire Authority has recognised 7 staff from By The River Brew Co. with Bravery and Meritorious Conduct Awards, following a series of water rescues on the Tyne.

The heroes with their certificates

Cllr. Barry Curran, Chair of the Tyne and Wear Fire Authority, Vice-Chair Nick Forbes and Chief Fire Officer, Chris Lowther made a special trip down to Gateshead Quayside this morning, to honour some equally special people.

Seven staff from By the River Brew Company – based beneath the Tyne Bridge on the Gateshead side – were given Fire Authority Bravery and Meritorious Conduct Awards for making four remarkable rescues from the water, following throwbag training provided by the fire service, in conjunction with the RNLI. The company itself was also presented with an award. Some of the staff were involved in more than one rescue. They are:

  • Phil Hall (from Whitley Bay)
  • Ben Anderson (from Cullercoats)
  • Niall Lamb (from Walker)
  • Jack White (Kenton)
  • Josh Melloy (Auckland NZ)
  • Sam Cook (Framwellgate Moor)
  • Yannick Thompson (Bordeaux, Fr.)

Barry Curran, Fire Authority Chair commented:

“This is probably one of the most remarkable set of awards ever given by this Fire Authority. All of these men have shown incredible courage and presence of mind to save the lives of those drowning in the Tyne.

In such pressurised circumstances when you see someone out of their depth in the water, timing is everything. These people didn’t hesitate – they quickly remembered the invaluable training they had received form us – and immediately put it into practice. They are credit to their community, their employers and to the four people whose lives they have saved. I cannot commend them more highly. They receive the very grateful thanks of their Fire Authority”

The Rescues

1.    On 1st July, Ben Anderson, Phil Hall and Niall Lamb witnessed a man enter the water and attempt to swim across the River Tyne. They located a throwbag and ran to the Swing Bridge where they could see the man in the water, near to the NE1 Pontoon. Following the training they had recently received, they shouted at the man and threw the bag for him to catch. They the dialled 999 to raise the alarm giving us the exact location and details. Other staff went to the pontoon with blankets for when the man was pulled out of the water. Our Swift Water Rescue Team (SWRT) was dispatched from Byker Community Fire station along with fire engines from Newcastle Central and Gateshead Community Fire Stations.  A trained SWRT swimmer reached the man and helped retrieve him from the water at the pontoon where North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) paramedics had arrived.

2.    On 30th July, Josh Melloy, Sam Cook and Yannick Thompson were off duty and en route to another pub when they saw a man in the water near the NE1 Pontoon. Josh threw a life ring into the Tyne, but this wasn’t successful. So Sam went to the Slug and Lettuce – aware that we had provided training and throwbags to venues on the Newcastle side. Yannick ran to the By The River Brew Co. to obtain their throwbag. Josh, using the life ring for his second attempt, successfully deployed this and the man was pulled near to the pontoon. He was quickly supported by a police officer and NEAS staff who removed him from the water and transported him to hospital.

3.    On 4th August staff had finished for the night, when they heard the noise of someone entering the water, close to the Newcastle side of the Tyne. They quickly saw a man in the water, but there was no movement. Jack White took a throwbag and ran to the NE1 pontoon, where he was quickly supported by a Police officer. Using the throwbag, Jack ‘bagged’ the man who was removed from the water and transported to hospital.

4.    On Saturday 25th August By the River Brew Co. staff saw a woman fall from the Tyne Bridge. Ben Anderson and Sam Cook made their way to the Newcastle side, where they saw that the woman was motionless and floating downstream. Jack White made a 999 call and proceeded down to the Gateshead side. The woman started to move in the water, so Ben ‘bagged’ and secured her until fire crews from Byker arrived.

 TWFRS Chief Fire Officer, Chris Lowther commented:

“These men have responded in exceptional circumstances. For some of them – not once – but twice – they have saved the lives of people in the water. The throwbag training we delivered for their employers has already saved four lives and four families still have their loved ones. There is no greater testament to the success of the training than what these guys have achieved in such a short period of time. I’d like to commend and thank them on behalf of the Fire Service.”