Coastal signs that could save lives installed

Location markers have been installed along parts of the Wirral coast to assist emergency services in responding to incidents in the River Mersey or Irish Sea that they may be called to support with.

A total of 58 numbered signs have gone up from Fort Perch Rock in New Brighton down to Woodside Ferry in Birkenhead as part of a lifesaving initiative led by Wirral Council’s Community Safety team in partnership with Merseyside Water Safety Forum, which includes representatives from Merseyside Police, Wirral Council, HM Coastguard, RNLI and the charity, Samaritans.

A similar scheme was introduced on the Liverpool side of the Mersey in 2021, suggested by a Merseyside Police officer, aimed at reducing the numbers of deaths in the river, either by suicide or any other incident that may result in someone entering the water.

Analysis of incidents showed that response times for emergency services were being hindered by the lack of precise locations around the waterfront to deploy them to, particularly if there was no distinguishable nearby landmark for example.

Wirral’s community safety team has led the way for the initiative to be adopted in Wirral with Fort Perch Rock (New Brighton), Egremont Ferry, Seacombe Ferry, Twelve Quays and Woodside Ferry being identified as key areas.

Apart from being uniquely numbered – 1 to 58 – each sign also contains the crisis number for Samaritans UK.

Evidence from other areas has shown that the signage has reduced the attendance time by emergency services from an average of 7.5 minutes to an average of 4.5 minutes. When someone is in crisis, this small amount of time can be the difference between life and death.

Cllr Helen Cameron, Chair of the Tourism, Communities, Culture and Leisure Committee for Wirral Council, said, “Introducing this simple numerical system along the coastline could be the difference between life and death for people in crisis and we are proud to be able to support in bringing the initiative to Wirral.”

Coastal Operations Area Commander with HM Coastguard, Michael Buratti said, “We know that in an emergency every moment counts and this scheme will help callers find an easy reference to pinpoint where an incident is happening.”

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