On Tuesday 2 June 2020, Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station was called by a member of the public at approximately 4.30pm. It was a hot sunny afternoon.

Teddington RNLI Lifeboat Station Mechanic and recently qualified Helm, Ray Searles said, ‘The people who called us were concerned about a person in difficulty in the water attempting to swim from one side of the River Thames to the other, near Trowlock Island, a distance of approximately 50 metres. As there were already two other volunteer RNLI Lifeboat crew at the station with me, doing (socially distanced) weekly boat checks, we were able to launch the D-Class D785 Peter Saw in a matter of minutes.’

The lock-keeper at Teddington Lock assisted with a fast passage through the lock.

On arrival on scene by Surbiton High School Boat Club, the casualty care trained Teddington RNLI volunteer Lifeboat crew of Ray Searles, Toby Banks and Callum Goddard provided medical care to the semi-conscious casualty.

It was in fact Ray Searles' first shout as Helm at Teddington RNLI. Ray wanted to thank members of the public and to reiterate the RNLI safety message, ‘Luckily two young girls had already helped the young man out of the water and took care of him until help arrived. Initially, he did not feel unwell but as his condition deteriorated our crew were able to administer oxygen and handover the casualty to the London Ambulance Service who arrived on scene shortly after.

Richmond and Twickenham Times:

We would like to remind people that even in very hot weather, the average water temperature at this time of year in the River Thames is 12 degrees Centigrade. Cold water shock is triggered in water temperatures lower than 15 degrees and can steal the air from your lungs, cause an involuntary gasp for air and leave you helpless in seconds. Should you find yourself in difficulty in the water, you should follow our FLOAT TO LIVE message - float on your back, fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs stay calm and float, call for help and then swim to safety if you can. It is also advisable to wear PFDs (personal flotation devices) if you are out on the water. They could save your life.’

In addition Ray added: 'I'd also like to thank Andy Bell (Teddington RNLI Helm) and Tom Lee (Teddington RNLI Crew) for assisting in a very thorough two-hour clean down post shout. Great commitment shown by our volunteer crew and shore crew all round.'

Finally, if you do see someone in difficulty in the water please dial 999 and ask for the coastguard. Don’t assume that someone else has already called for help.

This article written by Gianna Saccomani, Deputy Lifeboat Press Officer (LPO) and Crew, Teddington RNLI