The pumped up nightclub music and the yells of drunken students were all but drowned out by the roar of the water as Serve On volunteers once more patrolled the treacherous River Avon through Bath.
Below the city’s famous Pulteney Bridge, in earshot of young drinkers, millions of gallons of flood water cascaded over the weir carrying trees and other debris in its path, sounding a deafening warning to even the most inebriated reveller.
Members of Serve On’s Community Resilience Teams, International Response Team, K9 SAR Team and Rescue Rookies all combined to support our friends from SARAID-Avon-CRT and the Avon Fire and Rescue Service to keep a careful watch over university students enjoying end of semester/trimester celebrations.
The swollen state of the river following heavy rainfall had made the situation all the more unpredictable.
Back in December our contribution to the Don’t Drink And Drown campaign had resulted in one 22-year-old being plucked from the freezing river which has claimed 13 young men’s lives since 2008.
This time the tally for the boat and foot patrols was:
*People dragged from the river – none.
*Riverside casualties passed on to paramedics – none.
*Endangered pedestrians steered away from the river’s edge – none.
*End result – a successful mission.
Just as before, our volunteers set up our ops room tent with practised skill on the banks of the river and we were grateful again to the excellent staff at the nearby Travelodge, Bath Waterside, for the supply of electricity, not to mention the provision of tea and coffee.
While the SARAID-Avon-CRT teams diligently carried out riverside foot patrols through the city centre, our volunteers provided the ops room capability and had a boat ready to move at any report of trouble.
Further upstream Bath Fire Station crews had their own boat on standby.
Mercifully the warnings about the dangers of the river which have been put out by the students union and the Bath and North East Somerset water safety group, in support of the Royal Life Saving Society’s #Dontdrinkanddrown campaign, seem to be getting through.
*Our amazing volunteers offer their time for free, but such deployments still cost money.
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