RNLI open day

Crowds watched as the Chiswick life boat went through its paces on Saturday at the RNLI open day. The crew told an audience of mainly children and their parents some of the do’s and don’ts of river safety.
  • Do call 999 and ask for the coastguard if you see someone in trouble.
  • Don’t go in after your dog, as nine times out of ten the dog will find its way back to shore but you might not.

They also demonstrated how they would get a person out of the river, using ‘Dead Fred’ the rescue dummy (but we’re not supposed to know they call it that).

Alex Trylski has been a volunteer crewman for five years and is fully trained to man the third seat in the boat. Chsiwick lifeboat generally goes out on call with a crew of four on board. The Helmsman is in charge of the vessel and the rest of the crew take their orders from him or her. The station at Chiswick opened in 2002 as a result of the Marchioness Inquiry after 51 people died when a party boat collided with a dredger in August 1989. Since it opened the station has become the second busiest in the whole of the UK and Ireland.

Alex is one of a pool of about 60 volunteer crew who are called out regularly, mainly to attempted suicides, people involved in water sports and people to go in to the river to try and help their dogs when they get in trouble. Alex told me he’d been part of a crew who had retrieved someone from the river after he’d gone into the water from a bridge and been under the water for some time. He gave him CPR and the man survived. The lifeboat crew are the vital link between the person who first reports that someone is in the river and the London Ambulance Service who take them to hospital. Just as the crew act together as a team, so they see themselves as part of a wider chain of rescue.

On another occasion a dog had come off worse in an altercation with another dog, slipped down the bank into the water and the dog’s owner had managed to reach it and pass it back up the bank but then lost her own grip on the ladder running down the river wall and had to be rescued herself.

He thinks back to 1991, long before his involvement with the RNLI, when crossing Tower Bridge he saw a man on the wrong side of the parapet, who lost his grip and went into the river. At the time, with no mobile phones his own option was to run to a phone box on Tower Hill, and a police launch would have gone to try and find him. He doesn’t know if that man survived.

This year the Chiswick lifeboat has been called out to 108 incidents in the first six months of the year. Since they opened in 2002 they’ve dealt with 3,530 incidents. They launched twice on Sunday and twice on Monday after I talked to Alex. If you’d like to volunteer or to raise money for the charity, you can contact them through their website.


Thanks to Alex (pictured below) for the use of his photographs of the relief boat Brawn Challenge (E-09) which they were using on Saturday, and the crew hauling the rescue dummy out of the water.

Read more stories on The Chiswick Calendar

See also: Glen Monroe, Chiswick RNLI helmsman – Profile

See also: Chiswick Pier