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Another RNLI Tower lifeboat crewman reaches ‘1,000 rescues’ milestone

PUBLISHED: 17:06 29 December 2015 | UPDATED: 09:57 30 December 2015

Mick Nield... RNLI Tower lifeboat helmsman achieves 1,000 rescue missions [photo: Pierre Maelzer]

Mick Nield... RNLI Tower lifeboat helmsman achieves 1,000 rescue missions [photo: Pierre Maelzer]

Pierre Maelzer

A Tower lifeboat helmsman has become the second rescue crew member in 12 months on the Thames to be involved in 1,000 rescue operations.

Mick Nield, 46, stationed at the RNLI’s floating river pier base, has rescued 203 people and saved 42 lives, after the first Tower lifeboat crewman reached the milestone exactly one year ago this week.

Tower lifeboat crews... operating from busiest RNLI station in British IslesTower lifeboat crews... operating from busiest RNLI station in British Isles

The father-of-two has been saving lives on the river since the RNLI began operating on the Thames in London in 2001.

He has plucked drowning swimmers to safety who were moments from death and brought a man back to life who wasn’t even breathing and had no pulse.

“I still get that rush of adrenalin when the bell goes and we launch the lifeboat,” Mick admits.

You may only get one chance to grab someone before they go under—but you put nerves to the back of your mind and keep focused so you can do your job and save that person.”

RNLI rescue mission on the ThamesRNLI rescue mission on the Thames

The former Army Royal Engineer has been a crew member for nearly 15 years at the busiest lifeboat station in the British Isles.

One launch in Mick’s memory was to a man spotted face down in the water who wasn’t breathing and had no pulse, so the crew carried out heart resuscitation on the lifeboat before reaching the shore.

“He suddenly regained consciousness and was able to shake the crew’s hands by the time we got him back to the lifeboat station,” Mick recalled. “He simply walked off the lifeboat—it was incredible.”

Another rescue was a man on the Greenwich riverbank opposite the Isle of Dogs who had been in the water, but managed to get himself out.

"You may only get one chance to grab someone before they go under—but you put nerves to the back of your mind and keep focused so you can do your job and save that person."

Tower lifeboat helmsman Mick Nield

“He had tried to take his life after being made redundant,” Mick added. “He was going to jump in again and was in a bad way, so we sat together talking for 20 minutes about our families.

“I told him my family were at home waiting for me to finish work—but if he jumped back in, I would jump in after him, risking my life to rescue him.

“This struck a chord because he let us take him to safety.”

Mick’s 1,000th lifeboat launch was a short operation. The crew was called to a report of a woman at Vauxhall Bridge, but she was helped by police before they got there and the lifeboat stood down.

RNLI helmsman Mick Nield... back at Tower Lifeboat station after 1,000th rescue mission [photo: Pierre Maelzer]RNLI helmsman Mick Nield... back at Tower Lifeboat station after 1,000th rescue mission [photo: Pierre Maelzer]

Mick says philosophically: “On rare occasions I have a bad day, I think about how lucky I am to be able to save people’s lives as a job—it’s not a bad legacy to leave.”

His fellow rescue worker Stan Todd, 56, full-time helmsman at Tower lifeboat station, become the first to have launched on 1,000 rescue missions by New Year’s Day, 2015, having helped nearly 300 people and saved 47 lives, clocking up 34 years’ service on the Thames and at sea.

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