Part of: [[Public Safety]]

Related to: Children and Young People, Education , Mental Health and Illness , Alcohol , [[Environmental Hazards]] , Flooding , [[Severe Weather]] , Suicide and Mortality of Undetermined Intent .

Key Facts

    • 59 incidents between April 09 and March 14
    • Most common incidents were involving rivers/canals
    • 51% of Avon Fire and Rescue calls were made by the police
    • Abbey ward had the most incidents, with 10

What does the data say?

During the five year period April 2009 to March 2014, there were 59 incidents where the Avon Fire and Rescue had to rescue someone from water in Bath and North East Somerset. Almost half of incidents involved people needing to be rescued, and a total of 38 people had to be rescued. According to Avon and Fire Rescue’s records, these incidents resulted in 6 fatalities and 11 injuries.

 

Graph showing number of incidents per financial year

Figure 1: Avon Fire and Rescue incidents related to water in Bath and North East Somerset per

financial year (April 2009-March 2014)

Figure 1 shows that the number of incidents per financial year has remained relatively constant, with the exception of 2012/13, where it spiked up to over double the previous year.

Throughout the five year timespan, there were a similar number of incidents in each hour of the day.

Types of incident

The highest proportion of water related calls to Avon Fire and Rescue during this five year period in BANES involved rescue or prevention of a river/canal incident, making up 44%. The second highest proportion involved rescues from a vehicle in water, making up 15%.

Chart showing types of water related incidents

 

Figure 2: Avon Fire and Rescue incidents related to water in Bath and North East Somerset (April 2009-March 2014)

Origin of calls

Chart showing origin of calls relating to water-based incidents

Figure 3: Avon Fire and Rescue incidents related to water in Bath and North East Somerset – Origin of calls (April 2009-March 2014)

Figure 3 shows that just over half of calls to Avon Fire and Rescue regarding water related incidents in BANES between April 09 and March 14 were made by the police. The second greatest proportion came from either observers or victims, with only 8% coming from the ambulance service.

Location of incidents

The wards that reported an incident were:

 

Ward name

Number of incidents

Abbey

10

Widcombe

9

Kingsmead

7

Chew Valley North

7

Bathavon North

4

Bathavon South

4

Chew Valley South

3

Westmoreland

3

Bathavon West

2

Walcot

2

Saltford

1

Twerton

1

Publow and Whitchurch

1

Bathwick

1

Clutton

1

Keynsham East

1

Midsomer Norton North

1

Newbridge

1

 

Of the 18 wards that reported incidents to Avon Fire and Rescue, Abbey, Widcombe, Kingsmead and Chew Valley North reported the most.

River safety review along the river Avon in Bath between Churchill Bridge and Windsor Bridge Road 1

In 2011 The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents was engaged by the Council to assess the condition and safety arrangements along the River Avon between Churchill Bridge and Windsor Bridge Road. This stretch of river has been the location of three deaths in recent years. The aim of the review was to identify any areas where safety needs to be improved.

RoSPA consultants inspected the river corridor during daylight and during darkness. They spoke with the Police, Fire Brigade, Local Universities, the Environment Agency and British Waterways to establish stakeholder perceptions, issues and expectations and reviewed available statistics regarding drowning, rescues and emergency calls.

Assessment of risk

This stretch of river has been the location of four deaths in recent years. The RoSPA found that the river corridor is well used by both pedestrians and particularly cyclists and that there are sections of the river where a simple stumble, trip or swerve could result in a significant fall into the river. Once in the river, it is thought that opportunities for self-rescue or for being rescued are few.

The River corridor was segregated into sections appropriate to the physical characteristics; RoSPA visited all the locations along the River. The sections were scored using the RoSPA risk rating system. The outcome of these assessments is that high risk locations are identified and the suitability of the existing control measures can then be evaluated.

The RoSPA risk rating system is a scoring system which looks at component factors of the drowning chain. The results of the Risk Rating system is an overall score, the higher the number the more significant the risk. Based upon the RoSPA’s experience they allocated the following scores to a level of tolerability of the risks presented:

Chart showing places along the river Avon and their respective risk ratings

Table 1: Locations along the river according to the RoSPA risk rating scoring system

This stretch of river has been the location of four deaths in recent years.

Fire Service - The Fire Service data looked at for the report indicated that between April 2009 and June 2011 the Fire Service saved, or assisted in saving, 16 people from the river along this stretch, this is in addition to those that died. Also, that the most common time for incidents involving the Fire Service were the hours of midnight and 15:00 along this stretch of river.

It is though important to bear in mind that self-rescuers tend not to report incidents and so the actual incidence of river entry may well be higher.

Avon and Somerset Police - In terms of the police records looked at, these outlined that between April 2008 and May 2011 there were 78 emergency calls to the police about incidents that occurred in areas on or near the riverbank along this stretch of river, 40% of them occurred between 9pm and 2am.

Chart showing relevant emergency calls to police

Figure 4: Relevant emergency calls to the police for the areas overlapping with the River Avon between Churchill Bridge and Windsor Bridge Road (April 2008 – May 2011)

Of the 53 incidents thought to be most relevant:

  • 19 were classified as a Concern for Safety
  • 14 as Rowdy Nuisance Behaviour
  • 11 as Suspicious Circumstances
  • 8 as Violence against the person incidents
  • 1 was an incident of Sudden Death.

Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents - Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents collate national drowning statistics which are used by the National Water Safety Forum. They compared the available statistics on drowning in the UK. The results were too small to be statistically significant and so they could not draw strong conclusions from these figures. However the RoSPA claim that the incident rate in Bath is unusually high, particularly for such a short stretch of the river.

 

  • 1. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (2011) Water Safety Review, River Avon Bath, June 2011 – 2008-2011