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Firefighters rescue rafter from river
A MAN has been rescued from the River Irwell after getting into trouble while rafting.
Crews from Bury and Ramsbottom fire stations and an inshore rescue boat from Heywood Fire Station with a support crew from Eccles were called to Nuttall Lane, Ramsbottom, just after 2pm on Wednesday, September 26.
A 55-year-old man had been rafting on the fast-flowing river and got into trouble in the powerful currents caused by the heavy rain.
A group of kayakers or canoeists came across the man and, with the use of some ropes they had with them, managed to get the man on some steep banking.
Marooned on the banking, the man clung onto a tree, with half of his body still in the water with the kayakers helping him stay there until firefighters arrived.
The first firefighters on the scene stabilised the man with rescue lines while they waited for the boat team from Heywood Fire Station to arrive.
The boat crew were then able to get the man out of the water safely.
Station Manager Kev O’Connor said: “The three kayakers had every piece of equipment going, including ropes, wet suits, helmets and mobile phones, and without them and their equipment the man would almost certainly have died – the water was staggeringly fast.
“We were called to a man in the water who we believe had been rafting and had got into difficulties.
"A group of three kayakers had come across him and called the emergency services, staying with him so that he didn’t go under the water.
“When crews arrived, the kayakers were in the water with the man and he was up against the bank, practically unconscious.
"The crews secured him using rope lines to stop him going down into the water while the water rescue boat made its way to the scene.
“The water rescue team are highly trained and have very strict procedures – they put a team upstream and one downstream to protect the crews, the casualty and the kayakers, then they had a team go
down to rescue the casualty and bring him back up the bank.
“He was suffering from hypothermia and some cuts to his legs and was taken to hospital for treatment.”
Councillor David Acton, Chair of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, said: "Thankfully, some well-prepared kayakers were brilliant in helping the man and got our crews to the scene
quickly and, with the professionalism and training of the firefighters, they were able to rescue this man. We hope he makes a speedy
recovery from his ordeal.
"The bad weather this week means that our rivers are deeper and faster flowing than usual and can take even those who are experienced on the water by surprise – we would urge people to stay out of the water in the current conditions."
For more information about water safety, please go to http://www.manchesterfire.gov.uk/fire_safety_advice/seasonal_safety/water_safety.aspx.