Bangor RNLI save swimmer in Ballyholme Bay
At 08.10am this morning (Wednesday 28 December) Bangor RNLI’s volunteer crew responded to a request from HM Coast Guard to rescue a young man reported to be in difficulty 200 metres off the shore in Ballyholme Bay, near Bangor, Northern Ireland.
The alarm was raised by Ards and North Down council employee, Mark Pollock, as he was working in Banks Car Park. Hearing faint shouts, he initially thought it was someone calling for their dog, but persevered looking in the sea until he became aware that there was someone in the water. Without his quick thinking in calling HM Coastguard, this morning’s call would have had a very different outcome.
Bangor RNLI’s volunteer crew responded within minutes and made their way to Ballyholme Bay. Bangor RNLI Helm James Gillespie said later 'On arrival, the early morning light made it difficult to see, but fortunately the water was flat calm, and on scanning the area I saw a slight movement as the casualty raised his hand.'
'Heading quickly to the scene, crew member Johnny Gedge entered the water to support the casualty, who was only just conscious, until he could be lifted on board, where crew members Joanne Heasley and Jack Irwin put their casualty care training to good use.'
Helm James Gillespie continued 'Our training in casualty care is invaluable at a time like this. Because of this, we know the importance of not trying to warm the patient too quickly as this can cause cardiac arrest. Instead, we made the patient safe, and prevented further cooling, and returned as quickly and safely as we could to the lifeboat station where an ambulance and paramedics were waiting to take over.'
The patient, who is thought to be in his late 20s, was wearing only tracksuit bottoms, a t-shirt and socks.
A shocked Mr Pollock said 'I am just delighted that I heard his calls, and hope he makes a full recovery.'
Speaking after the ambulance left to take the patient to hospital, Bangor RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager, Kevin Byers, said 'Only five minutes more in the water could have been fatal, the crew took exactly the right actions to give this young man the best chance of a full recovery.
'I am always proud of my team, but their response this morning was magnificent. Not just the four crew members on the boat, but the many others who responded to their pagers and were prepared to do whatever they could to help.'
RNLI media contacts
For further information, please contact Bangor RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer Mark Johnston on 07976 256655
Situated on the shores of Belfast Lough, on the north east coast of Northern Ireland, Bangor lifeboat station has provided search and rescue cover for the area for over 50 years. The station operates a B class Atlantic 85 lifeboat
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.