Lifesaving campaign at River Wear spots championed in week-long awareness drive

Locations on the River Wear have been highlighted as lifesaver spots as part of an awareness drive to keep people safe from the water.

By Fiona Thompson
Tuesday, 27th April 2021, 6:19 pm

Staff at venues along the Sunderland and Washington stretch of the river have been trained to be responders where throwbags have been put in place.

Their role in keeping communities safe has been championed as part of the National Fire Chiefs’ Council Be Aware Week.

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A throwbag is in place at Fatfield in Washington, where bar staff have been trained up to help save people from the River Wear.

The Waterside Responder Scheme was developed following a Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) pilot in 2016 and run as a partnership with the RNLI in 2017.

Along the Wear, throwbags and trained staff will be located at The Biddick Inn and Havelock Arms in Fatfield, Washington, and The Ropery, Deptford and National Glass Centre in Sunderland.

There are also throwline boards at Fatfield, Pattinson South Pond in Washington and Mount Pleasant Lake.

To mark the week, a video has been shared showing how the training has been used, including by the By The River Brew Co by the River Tyne in Gateshead, where five potential drowning victims have been save since 2018.

Peter Heath, Deputy Chief Fire Officer at the service, said: "For staff and owners of business and premises located near rivers and other bodies of water, there is some simple and straight forward awareness and training that can be undertaken that along with some simple but effect equipment such as a throw line, can quite literally mean the difference between life and death.”

Nick Ayers, RNLI Water Safety Lead North East, said: “The program has already helped to save five lives in the local area.

“The program 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.”

Dawn Whittaker National Fire Chief Council National lead for Water Safety and Drowning Prevention added: "Learning how to use a throwline or life ring buoy may save a life, so I would like to express my thanks to Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, the RNLI and the local businesses that have signed up to this project.”

More details of the Waterside Responder program can be found at

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