The region’s fire and rescue service has called on people to look out for each other this Christmas after revealing they have been called to help more than 100 people in distress – in just six months.
Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have made the plea as we enter a festive period that can be a difficult time for many members of the community.
Group Manager Steven Thomas heads up the Prevention and Education team at TWFRS but his role also includes raising awareness of mental health in the Service and across the region.
He explained how firefighters are often among the first responders to reports of people in crisis on a bridge or on the cliff edge. For those who do fall into the water, it is the TWFRS boat that rushes to their aid and rescues them from the river or sea.
The Service work closely with Northumbria Police, and the region’s mental health leads, to help ensure those individuals get the support they need.
But now GM Thomas has called on the community to do their bit to look after vulnerable members of the community – as he reveals TWFRS have been called to 105 incidents of people in distress in the last six months. He said: ‘Over the nearly two years of this pandemic, many of us have struggled with the challenges of lockdown and social isolation but it’s important to remember you are never alone.
‘Even as we enter the tough period of Christmas, when it’s darker, the weather isn’t great and money is tight, it’s easy to feel bogged down.
‘We know we will be called to people in distress this winter and we have had more than a 105 call-outs to such incidents in just six months. That shows the scale of the issue.
‘We need to be working together every day as a society to keep each other safe so please do check in on your friends, family and neighbours to see if they are okay.
‘We will continue to work in collaboration with our key partners across the region to help increase awareness of the support that is out there.
‘But if people do need our help in a crisis, we will be there to try and keep you safe.’
Since 2017, TWFRS have been working closely with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RLNI) on the Community Responder Throwline Programme.
The life-saving joint scheme saw TWFRS work together with both the RNLI and Northumbria Police to deliver throwline training to riverside businesses.
It was launched in response to a steady increase in the number of individuals who found themselves in trouble in the water.
Businesses across Tyne and Wear can also receive training so they can help respond to anyone who is in distress in the water. Find out more information on the TWFRS website at www.twfire.gov.uk