Lifebuoys could be worse than useless

lifebuoy08:55 Tuesday 2nd December 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: But we’re going to talk first about these missing lfe-rings from alongside the River Cam in Cambridge. They were replaced only last week. They’ve now gone missing again. It’s been all over social media among the local Twitterati. So what happens next? Let’s speak to the River Manager Jed Ramsey from the Cam Conservators. What do you make of this then Jed?
JED RAMSEY: Going missing? It happens all the time. I think it’s a good reason to not have them there at all. That would be my view on that one.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Do you not need them there though for safety reasons?
JED RAMSEY: I don’t think so. I’ve worked on rivers for twenty years, and I’ve never heard of anyone being saved by them. Also I don’t know if you’ve ever picked one up. They’re like solid thick heavy plastic, and if you threw one of those at someone who was in the river from the height of where they are at riverside. I think there’d be a good chance you’d knock them out.
DOTTY MCLEOD: So why are they there in the first place, if you kind of think they’re pretty useless?
JED RAMSEY: Well I think they were put in when the bridge or the wall was built over a decade ago. Just probably somebody doing a risk assessment at the time said oh it’s a river. You’ve got to have lifebuoys. But I don’t necessarily think they’re always .. always a good thing to have. And it depends on the location. This location I think they should probably just remove them completely.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Would you have something there instead?
JED RAMSEY: No I don’t think so. I don’t think you need it. The river is quite narrow, and it’s also really shallow at the edges. So ..
DOTTY MCLEOD: Yes but I mean we all know Jed that if somebody gets into difficulties in water, sometimes it doesn’t matter how shallow it is.
JED RAMSEY: Yes that’s true. But it’s also hugely busy along there. There’s a constant stream of people. There’s people living in boats along there. There’s people rowing in boats. I just don’t think it’s a high risk area for someone to drown. I think it’s a low risk area, so I don’t think life buoys are particularly helpful there. But that’s just my view obviously. Someone could do the risk assessment differently and did in the past. So it’s a subjective thing, isn’t it?
DOTTY MCLEOD: Mmm. Jed, really interesting to talk to you this morning. Maybe that’s something we’ll look into a little bit more,. I wonder if there are other rivers where you do have those life-rings and they are used and they are worthwhile. I wonder if other safety measures have been used in some parts of the world. Interesting.