South Side and Eastwood Extra- December 31, 2009
by Elaine Liddle
The Glasgow Humane Society’s lifeboat team—which operates ion the rivers Kelvin and Clyde—is warning partygoers to stay away from the waterways.
With thousands heading out to Hogmanay celebrations this evening the GHS unit is on heightened alert.
Its advice is not to ge anywhere near water—particularly if you have been enjoying a new year toast.
George Parsonage has earned the name Riverman after being part of the lifeboat patrol in Glasgow for 42 years.
His father Ben served the Humane Society for 61 years before him. Between them the Parsonages have dedicated more than 100 years of their lives to rescue and recovery work from the GHS base beside St Andrews Bridge at Glasgow Green.
George said “As my father used to tell me, The Rivers are a wonderful friend to Glasgow. But they can be an unforgiving enemy if we don’t treat them with respect”
Having recovered more than 1500 bodies during his tenure, Mr Parsonage has seen first hand the dangers of crossing seasonal celebrations with freezing water.
River banks are often crumbling and liable to give way—and with a cold snap come icy walkways bringing an added danger of slipping and falling on bridges.
George says “tragically, I’ve seen it happen before. We really don’t want any lives ruined this year—you’re own, or the lives of loved ones — because of one moment of silliness or over-confidence near water.
“Currents are fierce and the temperature in rivers such as the Kelvin is always remarkably low. You would have just three or four minutes before early signs of hypothermia set in.
“Combine this with the rubbish and weeds tangled around your ankles and swimming becomes frighteningly difficult. Trust me—you really don’t want to take the chance.
First thing to do if you spot someone in difficulties is to dial 999. Then try and find a lifebelt along the riverbank and throw it into the water directing it as near to the casualty as possible.
Ask the person to hang on and kick towards the nearest exit.
But do not put yourself in any danger of falling in as well.