Wednesday 24th July 2013 – 8.00pm – Murray MacGregor.
Since the period of hot weather started, three people have died and another three are lucky to be alive after being rescued from open water in the West Midlands. Earlier today (Wednesday) two children were pulled from the River Arrow near Dolphin Road in Abbeydale, Redditch.
A six-year-old girl was semi-consciousness, had hypothermia and had swallowed river water. She was airlifted by the Midlands Air Ambulance to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, while an 11-year-old boy was taken by land ambulance to the Alexander Hospital in Redditch having also swallowed water and with milder hypothermia.
John Woodhall is Support Manager with our Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) and a water rescue specialist. He said: “People need to understand that going into open water such as rivers, canals, water filled quarries and reservoirs can be very dangerous.
“Our staff undergo extensive training to be able to go into this type of water safely. What people probably haven’t thought about is that we wouldn’t dream of going in without wearing appropriate safety equipment.
“Even in our training we see the reasons why people get into difficulty. Even though it has been hot recently, the water is still cold and that catches people out. You can get muscle cramps and stitches. The bottom is uneven, there are no depth markings. Even strong swimmers can slip underwater and you may not make it back up again.
“How many more people need to die before someone takes notice of our warnings of the dangers of swimming in open waters? For us, our motto is: Stay Out; Stay Safe.”