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Firefighter saves drowning man

What Happened
Person overboard/swept away/fell in the water
What Caused
Human factor
Casualty type/Qty
Causal Factors
Lack of awareness of hazards/obstacles
Injury Details
Near miss

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Description of Incident
A fire station officer based in Stornoway jumped into the freezing River Ness to save the life of a man who had fallen in the water.

Richy Kane (45), lives in Benside, and is currently on secondment in Inverness until January 31 of next year.

When parked at traffic lights in Inverness city centre recently, the alert fireman’s attention was drawn to something moving by the riverside.

He explained: “I saw a bag falling in the water and then I saw the man go over. I ran to get the nearest lifebelt and before I knew it I was in after him.”

Drawing on his extensive emergency situation knowledge, Richy did a split-second risk assessment and made sure that two other men were holding onto the lifebelt before he jumped in.

Once in the river however, he went numb as the reality of the freezing temperature hit home.

“I was in a bit of a state of shock,” he said.

“The river really was freezing cold.”

Ominously, the stricken man, who Richy estimated was in his mid-30s, was by now in the middle of the river.

However the force of the river current pulled Richy close to him, and he was soon able to grab him.

“I reckon he had been in the water for around three minutes,” said Richy.

“Any longer and he would have been hypothermic.”

Once the two men holding the lifeline saw that Richy had a hold of the victim, they easily managed to pull them to the riverside.

“It was all over in about five minutes,” said Richy.

“By that time all the emergency services were on scene and my car had been moved. I hadn’t realised I’d left it with the engine running at the traffic lights.”

It was later revealed that the man who had fallen into the river Ness had lost his footing.

He was taken to hospital via ambulance, and although cold, was unhurt.

Of his own heroic actions, Richy was predictably downbeat.

“It’s what I do in my job anyway,” he said.

“It was a team effort, as the two men holding the lifeline were making sure that things were very safe for me.”

Richy manages to get home to his family in Inverness — wife Anne, and sons Douglas (16), Lewis (14), and Fraser (12) — most weekends.

He says he loves working in the Western Isles, describing the place as ‘a fine place to see’.

And although he has not yet met again with the man whose life he saved, he understands that he is grateful for his efforts.

“He was very lethargic at the time so he couldn’t really speak,” he added.

“But police told me later that he was very appreciative of our efforts to rescue him.”
Supporting Information

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Location of Incident

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