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Glasgow City Council

'Taking a lifebelt is taking a life'

Published Tuesday 23 April 2019

'Taking a lifebelt is taking a life' is the stark message of a new public information film intended to improve safety along the River Clyde.

The film, which was produced through Glasgow's Water Safety Group and includes contributions from rescue staff at Police Scotland and the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, seeks to challenge the vandals who toss hundreds of lifebelts into the river each year.

The theme of the short film is that lives are put at risk by anyone who vandalises or removes one of the 670 lifebelts stationed along the River Clyde within the Glasgow city boundary.

Water safety charity, the Glasgow Humane Society estimate that their regular patrols of the Clyde lead to around 1000 belts being lifted from the water each year. One recent trip alone ended with 37 lifebelts recovered from the river, which meant safety along the river was significantly compromised until the belts could be returned to their mounts.

When someone is spotted in the water, getting a lifebelt to the person in distress can provide precious minutes for the emergency services to respond and complete a rescue.

In the film Graham McCartney of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service comments: "When you call 999, we receive the call and our team is dispatched immediately. We can be there in a matter of minutes. If we get there in time, then we can make a successful rescue. If a lifebelt is present it increases the chances of saving a life. Obviously we want to make a successful rescue every time but sadly that is not always the case."

Police divers will be called in if a rescue attempt proves to be unsuccessful and the impact of such an incident is enormous.

Michael Lodhi, a diver with Police Scotland who appears in the film, says: "The aftermath of a drowning in the river is hard for everyone involved. The divers, the emergency services, the people who made the 999 call and, of course, completely devastating for the family of the person who has drowned."

Glasgow City Council's Andy Waddell, who chairs the multi-agency Glasgow Water Safety Group, welcomed the release of the public information film, but expressed his frustration that vandalism to lifebelts continues to be an issue.

He said: "That anyone should think it's a bit of fun to throw away or damage a lifebelt is constant source of dismay to anyone involved in water safety in Glasgow. Removing lifebelts put people's lives at risk. Getting a lifebelt to someone in the water can make the difference between life and death.

"People who vandalise the lifebelts along the Clyde need to be fully aware of the potentially lethal consequences of their actions. It's saddening that this film even needed to be made, but we can't let vandals hide from the fact that to take a lifebelt is to take a life."

 

Published Tuesday 23 April 2019

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