The quick actions of RNLI lifeguards prevented a tragic outcome when they pulled a pair of children (aged 4 and 6) from severe difficulties in the water at Westbrook Bay, Thanet, yesterday (Tuesday 31 July).
At 1.35pm, lifeguards Breanainn Roberson and Lewis Box were keeping watch from the beach lifeguard unit when they spotted the pair in the water, directly between the red and yellow flags.
Although sea conditions were calm and the young children were only 5-10 metres from the shoreline, it was clear that they were in serious trouble and needed immediate help. Breanainn waded out to the pair, who were being slowly pulled out by the tide, and found that the boy was holding onto his sister in an effort to stay afloat, unwittingly pushing her under the water.
‘I immediately pulled them towards me. Although panicked, the boy seemed to be okay, but the girl was making a gurgling sound which was quite distressing: she had swallowed a lot of sea water and was foaming at the mouth,’ Breanainn said.
He brought them to the shoreline and ran to call the ambulance, whilst Lewis commenced a rapid first aid assessment of the children, now reunited with their mother.
The lifeguards administered oxygen to the girl, reassuring her and keeping her calm until the ambulance arrived and took her to hospital. The boy was given oxygen by paramedics, and taken away in a second ambulance as a precaution.
Mrs Lynn Newman, grandmother to the children and local to the area, explained that they had come to Westbrook Bay as a family day out. ‘We always pick a lifeguarded beach and often come to Westbrook Bay.’
She praised the lifeguards’ rapid response, commenting: ‘They pulled the casualties quickly from the water and called the ambulance straight away. They were very professional in their response.’
Area Lifeguard Manager Rory Smith said: ‘With the good weather and school summer holidays upon us, thousands more people are enjoying Thanet’s beaches. This incident shows just how important it is for families to choose a lifeguarded beach, and always swim between the red and yellow flags. As was the case here, lifeguards can reach those in difficulty within seconds, and will have first aid kit close at hand once casualties are recovered to the shore.
‘The charity’s lifeguards are highly trained and have professional kit to assist with rescues and first aid. The flag system is in place to keep beach users safe and help us patrol the beaches in the most effective way possible.’
For further beach safety advice, see www.rnli.org/beachsafety
Notes to editors
- Full time lifeguard cover began on Saturday 14 July on the following Thanet beaches: Botany Bay, Broadstairs / Viking, Joss Bay, Margate Bay, Minnis Bay, Ramsgate, Stone Bay, St Mildreds, West Bay and Westbrook Bay.
- RNLI lifeguard patrols run daily from 10am to 6pm.
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