The installation of this Portsafe alongside the popular Loch Doon offers protection from accidental drowning to the visiting public by ensuring fit-for-purpose water rescue equipment is always readily available. It’s highly visible and bold signage displaying clear water safety messages will also act as a deterrent to those tempted by open water swimming.
This Portsafe, featuring a one of our Queen’s Award winning telescopic water rescue poles within its lockable box, is the first of many planned for installation throughout Scotland as part of Scotland’s Drowning Prevention Strategy. In fact, this lifesaving water rescue equipment being situated at Loch Doon represents a major step in Scottish Water’s ‘4 Step Drowning Prevention Plan’; a directive set up after the accidental drowning of 18-year-old Brandon Patton in the very same loch in 2019.
According to official statistics highlighted in the Scottish Drowning Prevention Strategy, 50 people drown on average in Scotland each year. However, the most up-to-date figures from the National Water Safety Forum state 99 people drowned in 2020 – sadly, this is a 62% increase on the previous year, up from 61.
Indeed, seven tragic water-related deaths were recorded between 23rd – 25th July in Scotland during the heatwave this summer – the installation of Scotland’s very first Portsafe at Loch Doon, together with a host of water safety measures designed to improve drowning prevention at the loch, is timely and vital.
Improved Water Safety Measures put in Place at Loch Doon
As aforementioned, the newly installed Portsafe with 17m Rescue Pole is part of a wider scheme to improve water safety at Loch Doon. The other lifesaving measures put in place include a newly levelled slipway designed to aid easy access for emergency vehicles, ultimately speeding up entry to the water for responding water rescue crews and their newly acquired rescue boat.
Additionally, safety signage has been strategically placed around the loch. The installed Portsafe contributes to displaying crucial water safety information in its design. Messages include ‘swimming in unsupervised open water is very dangerous’ and ‘remember alcohol and water do not mix.’
The former is a supremely important reminder to anyone tempted by a swim in open water. For example, out of the 130 reservoirs owned by Yorkshire Water, just over 10% are monitored for open water swimmers. Loch Doon, and approximately 800 other open water spots throughout Scotland, are potentially less supervised owing to Scotland’s ‘Right to Roam’ regulations contained within the Land Reform Act 2003.
Likewise, the latter water safety message highlighting the dangers of swimming whilst under the influence are extremely vital too. According to figures supplied by leading drowning prevention charity the Royal Life Saving Society UK, a third of those who drown are found to have alcohol or drugs in their system.
Portsafe’s Lifesaving Water Rescue Features
A key feature of all the Portsafe Public Access Water Rescue Systems we’ve installed throughout the UK is the lock code for the secure box which is linked to 999 control. In the event of an emergency, a caller to 999 quotes the location code on the board to gain access to the box with the water rescue equipment stored inside. They can then act on a rescue whilst the 999 call handler despatches the emergency services.
At Loch Doon the emergency services are up to 40 minutes away. This time taken is a trend seen throughout the sparsely populated Scottish countryside – therefore, having permanent access to effective water rescue equipment for members of the public to swiftly act on a rescue is crucial.
A key goal in our collaboration with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service & East Ayrshire Council is to stem the flow of accidental drownings occurring throughout Scotland. Accidental drowning deaths increased in 2020 throughout the UK, bucking the trend of steadily declining deaths in the years preceding. With accidental drowning most likely to take place at inland waterways such as lochs, the planned installation of more Portsafes as part of wider water safety scheme will no doubt boost the safety of communities, and hopefully contribute to a reduction in drowning deaths in the years to follow.