Why Wait for Tragedy to Strike? How Portsafe is the Answer to Our National Water Safety Crisis

Portsafe in situ on banks of public water area

As more than 700 people drown in the UK and Ireland every year – with many more experiencing serious injuries as a result of an accident with water – we’re beginning to wonder if we’re in the midst of a national water safety crisis.  At the time of writing – 2nd July 2019 – there have been 5 incidents of accidental drowning in the past 5 days in England alone.  We’ve written time-and-again in our news updates of how 50% of drownings in open water occur when individuals have no intention of entering water at all.  However, what is most striking in regard to these 5 recent deaths is just how tragically young the majority of the victims are – the youngest person to drown was a 12 year old child.

In their ground-breaking water safety report ‘Global Report on Drowning’, the World Health Organisation points out that drowning is among the top ten leading causes of death for children.  With figures published up until 2016 suggesting drownings in the UK steadily increasing, one can’t help but wonder if the very recent tragedies occurring on a daily basis in the UK aren’t so much a bleak few days but the alarming shape of things to come?

Portsafe Water Rescue System Saves Public Life in Bedford

Emergency Services Collaborators alongside Portsafe in Front of River

Our public-access water rescue system is currently installed in over 50 high-risk public water areas across the UK, including 12 Portsafes in Bedfordshire as the result of a collaborative drive together with Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.  We’re thrilled to report that after only a few days of being in situ a Portsafe with telescopic rescue pole stationed along the embankment in Bedford town centre was deployed to successfully save a member of the public from drowning. 

The official word from Nick Lyall, Superintendent & Head of Operations at Bedfordshire Police as follows:

“On the 3rd June 2019 Police were made aware of a person in the river, at The Embankment, Bedford. The individual was some way out in the river.

The officer attending noticed the reach pole, and immediately requested the pin number. The officer hadn’t been trained to use the pole but it was easy to use.

The pole was used to reach the person in the river and bring them to the safety of the bank where they received the medical care they required.

The reach pole was used to safely rescue a member of the public without the person using it needing any prior training.

From my perspective, a life saving device.”

Those last four words are key… ‘a life saving device.’  Our vision for all accidental drownings being effectively 100% preventable isn’t a concept or distant future; it’s actually on the horizon.

Portsafe is the Answer to Our National Water Safety Crisis

Portsafe is designed to enable members of the public to conduct swift and directionally-accurate rescues by retrieving casualties in the water from a safe distance thereby minimising the danger posed to themselves whilst also boosting casualty survival chances.  Developed in response to repeated reports of vandalism with existing water rescue systems, Portsafe securely houses a long-reach telescopic rescue pole with an emergency throwline inside lockable boxes that are accessible via a code granted by quoting the Portsafe’s location number to the emergency services.

The successful deployment of Portsafe at the incident in Bedford makes clear that this system works.  The question now is: if it can save an individual from drowning in Bedford, then is it beyond the realms of possibility that it would have positively intervened to prevent the tragic drownings that occurred in England this past week?

What we’d like to see at Reach and Rescue is Portsafe become an ever-present site at the edge of Britain’s public waterways; a household name as universal as a lifebuoy.  Only then will it be a proactive solution to Britain’s water safety crisis, rather than a retrospective reaction to an incident of accidental drowning.


Read about our successful collaboration that led to multiple lifesaving Portsafes being installed across Bedfordshire.

Speak to us about any of our innovative water rescue products by calling us on 03301 595 088 or by emailing jo@reachandrescue.com

UK: 03301 595 088
International: 0203 368 6792     

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin