Exmouth: quick-thinking 999 call saves disabled woman

15:05 11 July 2014

HM Coastguard

HM Coastguard


A disabled woman who went missing in the water after swimming near Topsham was found ‘cold but conscious’ by the emergency services.

The RNLI inshore lifeboat George Bearman. File photo.The RNLI inshore lifeboat George Bearman. File photo.

Exmouth coastguard has praised a quick-thinking member of the public who spotted a disabled woman in difficulty in the water and raised the alarm.

The coastguard team and Exmouth RNLI on Wednesday joined the search for a wheelchair-bound woman who went missing while swimming in the river Exe, at Topsham.

Exmouth coastguard said the outcome for the woman, who was found conscious but cold, could have been worse if the public had not intervened.

Paul Howell, Exmouth coastguard station officer, said: “Exmouth coastguard would like to thank the member of public who spotted the female entering the water and dialled 999 immediately.

“Had it not been for his prompt actions, this incident could have had a much poorer outcome.”

The emergency services were called to a small slipway at Topsham after a fully-clothed young woman in a wheelchair was seen entering the water.

The coastguard rescue helicopter from Portland and police helicopter were also tasked to assist in the search.

The 22-year-old woman had been in the water for around 45 minutes before she was found by Exmouth RNLI inshore lifeboat crew, a mile down the river at Riversmeet.

The casualty was treated on dry land by paramedics before being taken to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital by ambulance.

Exmouth RNLI volunteers abandoned an all-weather lifeboat exercise to join in the search.

An RNLI spokeswoman said: “Three extra volunteers were on the water aboard the inshore lifeboat within three minutes and sped towards Topsham.

“The casualty was recovered, still in a conscious state, to a pontoon in Topsham where a paramedic arrived shortly afterwards.

“The 22-year-old woman was checked over and was taken to Royal Devon and Exeter hospital by ambulance as a precaution, as she was very cold.”

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