Successful Collaboration Leads to Portsafes Being Installed Across Bedfordshire

Emergency Services Collaborators alongside Portsafe in Front of River

In Bedfordshire, there have been over 20 incidents of accidental drowning since 2013 – that is, people who have got themselves into trouble in Bedfordshire’s waters either by falling in or by experiencing difficulty whilst swimming in open water. Evidently, there are a substantial number of people who drown that never intended to get into the water at all. They might be out for a walk or running, or they could be fishing by the river before falling in.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK states that around “85% of accidental drownings occur at open water sites” whilst the World Health Organisation adds that drowning is the “3rd leading cause of unintentional injury death worldwide”. Our colleagues at Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) have quite rightly assessed the risk of accidental drowning in their waters and acknowledged that action needs to be taken.

Portsafe is the World’s First Public Access Rescue System and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service (BFRS) have just installed 4 at locations noted as having a high-risk of accidental drowning along the River Bedford. Working closely in collaboration with local councils and Police force, they plan for more Portsafes to be installed across a total of 12 locations in Bedfordshire and Luton. Ultimately, as stated on the BFRS website – “the goal of the new rescue equipment is to help get people out of trouble in Bedfordshire’s waterways”.

Installed across the River Bedford this week are 4 Portsafes with a telescopic rescue pole and emergency throwbag contained in each.  Having both a rescue pole and a throwbag will give any member of the public performing a rescue the maximum chance of getting a casualty out of the water as they’ll have both rescue options available to them.  The emergency throwline throwbags can be tossed to a casualty in the water enabling the swimmer to grab the throwline rope and get pulled to safety.  The telescopic rescue poles accurately extend to a casualty in the water; pictured above is the pole with clamping float which will provide support and stability as the pole is extended across the water.  The body hook attachment at the top will mean the pole will function and rescue an individual regardless of whether they’re conscious in the water or not.

Our colleagues at Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service have created a handy demonstration video which clearly demonstrates how easy and intuitive our equipment is for a member of the public.


In addition to the 4 Portsafe’s installed in Bedford, the other locations that they’re to be installed are as follows:

  • 1 in Harrold
  • 2 in Wixams
  • 1 in Sandy
  • 1 rescue pole Portsafe & 1 emergency Throwline Board Portsafe in separate locations in Biggleswade
  • 1 in Leighton Buzzard
  • 1 in Luton

The following is our statement provided to BFRS and is pulled directly from their press release:

Our goal at Reach and Rescue has always been to make Britain’s open water areas safer by saving the lives of those in difficulty whilst minimising the risk to the rescuer.  The launch of the UK’s first public-access extendable poles and throwlines throughout Bedfordshire represents a huge step towards making this goal a reality. 

We were challenged by our colleagues at Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service to overcome a specific list of limitations with current rescue solutions such as lifebuoys.  By developing rescue equipment that is tamperproof, quick to deploy and easy to use whilst keeping a rescuer’s feet on dry land, any person in trouble in the water now has the greatest chance of being rescued. 

Ultimately, our goal to increase water safety throughout the UK is a shared one.  Improving the standard of rescue equipment throughout Bedfordshire wouldn’t have been achievable without the extensive collaboration undertaken with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service. 

Tragically, the number of incidents of accidental drowning occurring in Bedfordshire is what has led to the collaboration resulting in the installation of our water rescue equipment.  In fact, the incidents recorded in Bedford are not unique – they are occurring up and down the country.  As a result, we are collaborating with a number of organisations across Greater Manchester, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire and will have more lifesaving Portsafe’s with rescue poles and throwline boards installed soon – watch this space.


Read more about the Portsafe being installed across 20 locations in Greater Manchester.

Head on over to the Royal Life Saving Society UK’s Water Safety webpage for loads of tips on how to stay safe around open water areas.
UK: 03301 595 088
International: 0203 368 6792     

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