About York Rescue Boat

York Rescue Boat is an independent search and rescue charity, based in York, North Yorkshire.

Founded in 2014 after a series of deaths in the city’s rivers, York Rescue Boat has grown from humble beginnings raising money out of the back of a car, to a highly trained and capable team becoming renowned for its work both in York and further afield.

Our work centres around the Rivers Ouse and Foss in York. Uniquely, we work to make the city safer by carrying out combined patrols by boat and on foot at high risk times every weekend throughout the year as opposed to just responding to emergency calls. We also cover other times as requested by North Yorkshire Police or other agencies. This approach brings team members into contact with many people along the river; around 80% of people we deal with during incidents are classed as vulnerable or struggling with Mental Health problems and who are drawn to the river.

We have a Memorandum of Understanding in place with North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue and North Yorkshire Police who are able to call upon York Rescue Boat to assist with rescues, missing person searches and any other incidents where our expertise and equipment can be used. 

As well as the high profile prevention and rescue side of the charity, York Rescue Boat team members help with a programme of education, going into schools, scout groups, colleges, universities and other interested groups to provide education on the dangers of open water and how to stay safe around it.

In addition to our work around York, York Rescue Boat provides a nationally deployable Flood Rescue Team, available to the Fire and Rescue Service National Control Center to be sent anywhere in the country in times of serious large-scale flooding. 2015 saw the teams deployed to one of the largest flooding event ever recorded in the UK, the floods following Storm Desmond, which saw York Rescue Boat crews deployed to Cumbria and help perform over 80 rescues in difficult circumstances. Christmas 2015 saw the team working in their home city, when York was the subject of major flooding, as part of Surf Life Saving GB’s (SLSGB) network of lifesaving clubs.

All of our crew are volunteers, no one receives a wage, and we rely on the generosity of the public to keep the team afloat. If you would like to support our work please consider making a donation


  • Public Awareness Campaigns: The organisation runs public awareness campaigns to educate the community about the dangers of open water and safe practices near rivers. These campaigns often include informational sessions, distribution of safety materials, and social media outreach.
  • School Programs: York Rescue Boat collaborates with local schools to provide educational programs tailored for children and young adults. These programs teach water safety, the importance of water safety equipment, and how to respond in case of an emergency.
  • Workshops and Training: We offer workshops and training sessions for various community groups, businesses, and other organisations. These sessions cover topics such as first aid, CPR, and basic water rescue techniques.
  • Safety Demonstrations: The team conducts live safety demonstrations at community events and public gatherings. These demonstrations showcase rescue techniques, proper use of safety equipment, and how to assist someone in trouble in the water.


  • Regular Patrols: Every week we conduct regular patrols along the River Ouse and River Foss, particularly during peak times when the risk of accidents is higher. Our presence acts as a deterrent to risky behaviour and provides immediate assistance if needed.
  • Partnerships with Local Authorities: By working closely with local authorities and emergency services, we help implement preventive measures such as improved riverbank safety features, increased monitoring, and community engagement initiatives.
  • Night Time Economy: Working with partner agencies, we help to keep York safe for the night time economy. This has contributed to York receiving the Purple Flag status.


  • Emergency Response: We provide a rapid response to water-related emergencies. We are on call 24/7 and can be deployed quickly to incidents involving people in distress in the water.
  • Trained Volunteers: Volunteers undergo extensive training in water rescue techniques, first aid, and emergency response. This training ensures we are equipped to handle a variety of scenarios, from rescuing individuals to providing immediate medical assistance.
  • Rescue Equipment: The rescue boats are equipped with state-of-the-art technology and equipment, including thermal imaging cameras, searchlights, flotation devices, and medical supplies. This equipment is essential for effective search and rescue operations, especially in challenging conditions.
  • Collaboration with Emergency Services: York Rescue Boat works in close coordination with local emergency services such as the police, fire brigade, and ambulance service. This collaboration ensures a comprehensive and efficient response to emergencies.