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The initiative has been launched by the RNLI; fire and rescue services; and the York Rescue Boat; and comes after several people died after jumping or falling into water.
Pubs and other hospitality venues will be offered training on how to help rescue people safely as well as warn their customers on the dangers of cold water.
Training will include how to use a ‘throw bag’, which is a 20m floating line that can pull someone to safety and will be provided to pubs next to the River Ouse.
Five people have died in the river in the past six months and three others were rescued after coming into distress.
Pub staff are likely to encounter those at risk of falling into the river and can protect their customers from harm with the right information and resources, according to the RNLI.
RNLI community safety partner Nick Ayers said that it was common for pubgoers to get into difficulty in the river after drinking.
He said: ‘‘Research shows that a significant proportion of drownings involve people visiting pubs and bars near water and then getting into distress.
“It could be someone taking a seemingly innocent swim and suffering cold water shock, or it could be through an accident where someone never intended to be in the water.”
“Staff at these venues will be our advocates on the waterside. They are the ones most likely to be there at times where risk is most prevalent.
“The idea behind training staff or volunteers at pubs, bars and restaurants, is they will be able to encourage good behaviours in that environment by giving the public knowledge and advice, and they will, ultimately, know what to do if someone did enter the water.”
Station manager Bob Hoskins from North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said pubs can act quickly to try and assist people who end up in the water until the emergency services arrive.
Hoskins added: “The issue is not limited to the warm summer months. Incidents occur all year around, which highlights the need for a scheme such as this. The York Water Safety Forum will continue to work in partnership to reduce incidents on the Ouse and Foss."
The organisations said they would like as many pubs and bars to sign up to the training as possible.