VIDEO: Dramatic river rescue footage shows danger of open water

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Dramatic footage showing a river rescue has been produced to demonstrate the dangers of open water.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service (WYFRS) has released the video which was caught on camera by Leeds City Council CCTV operatives.

It follows on from a recent spate of water related tragedies nationally.

The rescue from the River Aire happened in the early morning of May 21 in The Calls area of Leeds.

A man plunges into the water and is then seen to struggle to keep afloat as he grasps at vegetation along the river bank walls.

Cold water shock quickly sets in and saps the man’s energy and it is soon clear that he is losing his battle for survival as he starts to dip below the surface, dropping in and out of consciousness.

Fortunately, the CCTV operatives spotted the casualty in distress and immediately raised the alarm with the emergency services, pinpointing the exact location of the rescue.

Firefighters from Leeds Fire Station Blue Watch, who are trained in swift water rescue, were nearby at the time and were on the scene in a matter of minutes followed by colleagues from West Yorkshire Police.

When the fire crew arrived on the bankside it was very apparent that an urgent rescue was required in order to save the man and so a firefighter immediately entered the water at the point the casualty had last been seen.

The firefighter was attached to a second crew member on the bank by a safety line.

The firefighter could not, at first, locate the man, as he had now disappeared under the water. On the second attempt he managed to locate the casualty after diving down.

Once he grabbed the casualty he pulled him to a nearby pontoon where, assisted by another firefighter and a PC, they were able to rescue the casualty from the water.

At this point the man who had been in the water was unconscious and not breathing. The rescuers carried out immediate first aid and revived him. He was then taken to hospital in an ambulance, suffering from hypothermia.

Fortunately he survived his ordeal.

Ian Bitcon, WYFRS Area Manager for Fire Safety, said: “This truly was a heroic rescue by firefighters, supported by police and the CCTV operatives who also played a crucial role.

“The casualty in this rescue was incredibly lucky and this footage shows just how quickly people can get into real difficulty in cold water.

“Some of our firefighters are trained in swift water rescue and attend numerous rescues similar to this one each year, although sadly not everyone is as lucky as this man.

“It is fortunate that a crew trained in water rescue happened to be in the vicinity at the time which saved crucial minutes.

“With the River Aire running through the busy centre of Leeds, it is a hotspot area for water rescues and we hope this shocking footage will make people think twice before they enter the water, especially now that we are in the summer months.”

Superintendent Lisa Atkinson, Head of Neighbourhood Operations for West Yorkshire Police, said: “People who are out and about enjoying themselves in the warmer months often see the water as a place to cool down or play in.

“But these waterways are not like swimming pools. There are no lifeguards on hand in case someone gets into difficulty and there are often hidden currents which can catch out even an experienced swimmer.

“The temperature of the water is another factor people rarely consider. It can be a shock to people and in most reservoirs the temperature is very cold. People suddenly entering cold water are susceptible to hyperventilation; this could result in the body going into seizure and a person drowning as a result.

“We are asking people to stay safe and stay out of the water.”