Updated: Woman rescued from freezing river ‘lucky to be alive’

30 Oct 2019 @ 10.04 am
| News

A woman was described as ‘lucky to be alive’ after being rescued from the river in York after nearly an hour in the freezing water.

Firefighters from York and Acomb, and volunteers from York Rescue Boat, were called out at 5.06am today (Wednesday) to reports of a person in the River Foss.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service station manager Bob Hoskins told Minster FM they were called by the police to say a woman was in the river near Castle Car Park. He said:

  • Obviously the temperatures this morning were absolutely freezing.

    So we mobilised two appliances from Acomb Fire Station, the appliance from York and the boat.

    On arrival the female was in the water. Police had been trying to coax the woman out for some time.

    We used ladders and manpower to assist the police in getting her out of the water.

She was handed into the care of the Yorkshire Ambulance Service. In a tweet Mr Hoskins said she had been in “the freezing waters of the Foss” for about an hour by the time she was rescued.

A spokeswoman for Yorkshire Ambulance Service said: “The incident took place at 4.58am on Wednesday on the River Foss near the Hilton Hotel in York.

“We attended the scene and the patient has been taken by ambulance to York Hospital.”

Cold water shock

The River Foss next to the Castle Car Park. Photograph © Google Street View
Because of the vertical sides on the Foss, it is very difficult to get out of the river Mr Hoskins said.

“We want people to be aware that once you’re in these pieces of water, they can kill. She’s been very lucky in these circumstances to have been rescued.”

Even though the water in this stretch of the Foss is not that deep, the cold water shock can lead the body to “start closing down”, he said.

And there were a variety of reasons for people entering the water:

  • We’ve had a number of incidents in the river over the last 12 months, that’s been highly publicised.

    We have mental health issues, people who don’t know the area who maybe get into trouble because of misunderstandings – people do have accidents.

    There’s a wide range of issues why people end up in the water. Yes, alcohol has a role to play, but it isn’t the whole story and we have to be mindful of that.

North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue Service Station Manager Bob Hoskins. Photograph: David Dunning
It was the second call out in a few hours for York Rescue Boat.

North Yorkshire Police had contacted the team at 1.53am to reports of a person on the wrong side of Ouse Bridge.

As the details were being passed the person made their own way to the safe side of the bridge.

York Rescue Boat is entirely funded by donations. You can donate here.