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RNLI lifeguards respond to several major incidents in North Devon

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI lifeguards have had a busy week with rescues and first aids at Woolacombe and Croyde beaches.

On Tuesday (23 August) at 1pm, RNLI lifeguards in Woolacombe responded to a male who had a heart attack in the water. The incident was witnessed by a trainee paramedic who also attended to the casualty. Lifeguards assisted with CPR, with Alfie Berry on chest compressions, before the casualty was airlifted to hospital for further treatment.

Later on that day at around 3.30pm, RNLI lifeguards spotted a man in trouble in the water and responded rapidly. Children who were near to the man helped him until RNLI lifeguard Gary Sink pulled him from the water. The casualty was unconscious and was treated on the beach by Gary, before being sent to hospital in the air ambulance. 

RNLI lifeguards at Croyde also handled several major incidents on the same day. 

A young girl’s life was saved when she was caught in a rip current at around 3.30pm. RNLI lifeguard Sean Deasy launched the rescue water craft (RWC), to rescue her in challenging conditions. The girl was going under the waves in large powerful surf.  Her father was trying to help her but was overwhelmed by the surf himself.

During the afternoon, a woman collapsed on the slipway with a heart condition and was treated by RNLI lifeguard manager Phil Hill, until paramedics took over. The casualty was dispatched on the scene.

Later in the afternoon, lifeguards Jack Hutchins, Archie Willis and James Bunney dealt with a teenage girl with a serious spinal injury.  They had to assist her with her breathing as she was in a bad condition. The coastguard assisted with a helicopter landing, and the casualty was taken to North Devon District Hospital for further treatment.

Phil Hill, RNLI Lifeguard Manager, said: ‘Lifeguards have been extremely busy this week and have done a fantastic job keeping people safe on the beaches.

‘We want people to enjoy our beautiful coastline this Bank Holiday weekend, but make sure they do it safely. Conditions can change quickly at the beach, so it is really important to respect the water and take extra care when visiting the coast.

‘If you want to swim or bathe in the sea we would advise you do so at a lifeguarded beach. The red and yellow flags indicate the safest areas to swim and lifeguards keep watch over this area, so if you do get into difficulty raise your arm and call for help.

‘RNLI lifeguards are always happy to answer any questions or advise of any risks, including where any rip currents may be, which can catch out even the most experienced swimmers.’

RNLI lifeguards in North Devon were also been busy reuniting lost children with their parents, helping an elderly woman with a broken wrist and various first aid incidents.

The RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign is running throughout the summer. To find out more about the dangers of the coast and how to stay safe, visit

Notes to editors

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For further information, please contact either Aysha Bryant, RNLI Communications Student Placement, on 01752 854479 or  or Emma Haines, RNLI Public Relations Manager, on 07786668847 or email or Chloe Smith, RNLI Press Officer on 07920818807 or email

Key facts about the RNLI

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen, Carrybridge and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.

The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.

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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland