Shields Ferry and fishing boat 'crash' as emergency exercise puts teams to the test

The emergency services rushed to the rescue after a collision between the Shields Ferry and a fishing boat.

But while the response to the incident was true to life, the crash was staged so that teams could be put to the test in a training exercise.

The exercise, which took place on the River Tyne this morning, gave emergency services the chance to practice their response to a collision between the ferry and another vessel.

Several readers contacted the Shields Gazette to express concern after spotting the activities on the water before it was known it was a planned event.

The exercise saw the Shields Ferry crew test out emergency incident procedures alongside their partners at the Port of Tyne, HM Coastguard and the RNLI.

Mannequins were used as victims of a staged collision between the Spirit of the Tyne passenger ferry and a fishing boat.

The lifeboat approaches the Spirit of the Tyne Shields Ferry.

The lifeboat approaches the Spirit of the Tyne Shields Ferry.

Actors were also on board to play the role of passengers to make the experience as realistic as possible for emergency workers.

The actors, who were in fact students from South Shields Marine School, had to put on life jackets and report to muster stations before they were rescued by the Tynemouth Lifeboat and Port of Tyne Pilot Boat.

The Coastguard Search and Rescue team were joined by the South Shields Voluntary Life Brigade to practice for the recovery of a casualty from the engine bay on board the ferry.

Shields Ferry manager, Carol Timlin, said: “Emergency training ensures that we are ready to deal with major incidents.

Pupils from South Shields Marine School playing the role of passengers.

Pupils from South Shields Marine School playing the role of passengers.

“We always say this is training for a day that we hope will never come, but we have to be prepared for the sort of challenges we would face in the event of a maritime accident on the River Tyne.

“This exercise gave us the chance to work with the lifeboat crews and other agencies to ensure that our responses are tested fully.

"This included rehearsing for a collision mid river, administering first aid, and the rescue of people from the water.

“My thanks go to the RNLI, Port of Tyne and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency for their support and involvement in the exercise. It was a hugely important event for all concerned.”

The volunteers from South Shields Voluntary Life Brigade and the HM Coastguard Search and Rescue after today's exercise

The volunteers from South Shields Voluntary Life Brigade and the HM Coastguard Search and Rescue after today's exercise

HM Coastguard carrying out a mock rescue of a causality from the ferrys engine bay.

HM Coastguard carrying out a mock rescue of a causality from the ferrys engine bay.

The RNLI crew prepare to evacuate a 'casualty'.

The RNLI crew prepare to evacuate a 'casualty'.