An RNLI crew member following the rescue. Image: RNLI/New Brighton
A pilot boat called the Razorbill, which brings in cargo and cruise ships from the sea into port, raised the alarm when the crew discovered a woman in the choppy waters of the Mersey in the early hours of Monday morning.
The Razorbill alerted Wirral Coastguard who in turn called out the New Brighton Lifeboat RNLI volunteer team.
The crew arrived on the scene to find the woman clinging onto the underneath of the Pier Head landing stage on Liverpool’s waterfront in freezing and fast-flowing currents.
Two of the RNLI crew jumped in the water to rescue the casualty who was pulled into the boat.
An RNLI spokesperson said he did not know how the woman ended up in the water, but she was suffering from ‘early onset hypothermia’ and was treated on scene by North West Ambulance Service.
He added: “Our crew are volunteers who go out in the New Brighton Lifeboat in addition to their day jobs.
The waters of the Mersey are very cold and dangerous at this time of year and especially in the early hours of the morning. We are very grateful to the pilot boat crew and those who raised the alarm.”
Reaction from the rescuers
Steve Mole and Mark McGinn, both crew members of the New Brighton Lifeboat jumped in the water to rescue the woman.
Mr Mole said: “We arrived at the scene and could see the female in the water from the boat.
“It was decided that the only viable way to rescue the casualty was to enter the water from the boat. Despite the weather conditions and the location we were able to quickly reach the casualty and bring her back to the safety of the boat.”
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and Wirral Coastguard were also on scene to assist.
Damian Cull, from the RNLI Deputy Launch Authority, New Brighton Lifeboat, said: “We were so pleased to have been able to rescue the casualty from the strong currents of the Mersey.
“The team worked well together in conjunction with Merseyside Fire and Rescue and Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team who were also tasked. We wish her a speedy recovery from her ordeal.”
RNLI half-term warning
The RNLI and HM Coastguard have issued a warning reminding people to stay safe if they are heading to the coast during the half-term school break across England and Wales.
RNLI Senior Water Safety Manager Tony Wafer said: “With the best of the weather behind us for the year, we’re asking those visiting the coast this half-term to consider the dangers.
“Our lifeboats often rescue those cut off by the tide on coastal walks, so we encourage you to check the tide times and ensure you have planned to get back safely before the water level rises.
“For those planning a coastal walk, also consider the terrain as what may seem like firm ground can, in fact, be very soft sand or mud meaning that people might get stuck.
“Over the coming months, sea conditions will become rougher and more unpredictable which brings many additional dangers. Large waves will break on the shoreline which increases the risk of people being swept off their feet, along with coastal erosion causing cliff falls making some areas more dangerous.
“Around 140 people lose their lives at the UK and Irish coasts each year, and over half never even planned to enter the water.
“If you do find yourself in the water unexpectedly, float to live by fighting your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and float until you gain control of your breathing, before deciding whether to call for help or swim to safety.”
Claire Hughes, Director of HM Coastguard, said: “Autumn is a perfect time to explore the coastal areas around the UK, the summer crowds have gone and the weather is ideal for a walk.
“However, the sunshine can quickly vanish making the temperature much colder and the lifeguards who were present in peak season are no longer on most beaches. It is vital at this time of year to be prepared before you head to the coast.
“As always, we are ready to deal with emergency situations but please take note of safety advice and don’t take risks. If you see anybody in trouble, don’t enter the water yourself to try and rescue them, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”
RNLI coastal safety advice
- Have a plan - check the weather forecast, tide times, read local hazard signage and let someone know where you are going and when you intend to be back.
- Keep a close eye on your family and keep dogs on a lead near the edge of cliffs.
- If walking or running be aware that coastal paths, promenades and piers may be slippery or prone to waves breaking over them.
- If you fall into the water unexpectedly, Float to Live. Fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back and relax, extending your arms and legs.
- In an emergency dial 999, and ask for the Coastguard.