Newcastle’s quayside bars are to be given lifesaving equipment and offered staff training after several people have drowned in the Tyne.
The bars will be given special flotation bags attached to ropes, which can be thrown to anybody in difficulty.
Since January, five bodies have been pulled from the river and there are fears that as the weather gets warmer and more people take to drinking outdoors, this total could rise.
The scheme to hand out the inflatable bags is being run by Newcastle City Council, Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, and the business improvement organisation NE1 Ltd.
Councillor Nick Kemp, the chair of Safer Newcastle, said, “Sadly people do fall into the Tyne and the consequences can be fatal.”
“It can also be traumatic for people who witness it, but at least these throw bags will give them a fighting chance of trying to rescue them.”
Assistant chief fire officer, Alan Robson, said, “The advantage of this flotation aid is that it is fastened to a rope. When it is thrown, and the person in the water misses it, it can be retrieved and thrown again. With a life buoy, you only get one chance.”
“Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue will offer to train bar staff and door staff who want to use these flotation aids for free. It’s not instead of life buoys, but an additional measure that can be taken to help people in difficulties.”
Adrien Waddell, director of operations at NE1, said, “We want to make Newcastle one of the safest places for nights out, and river safety is of paramount importance.”
“It’s a great scheme and we look forward to it being rolled out in the city and more widely in the Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service area.”
Concerns over revellers falling into rivers and drowning have been voiced recently in a number of cities, including Durham and York. In Durham, a campaign was launched in the run-up to Christmas to try to prevent clubbers and partygoers drowning.