Three RNLI lifeboats from Dover and Walmer RNLI were tasked by the Coastguard at approximately 9.26pm on Monday 6 June to search for a large group of missing children and two adults.
The group of 34 teenagers and 2 adults from London were rescued after reporting themselves lost during a coastal walk on a beach in the vicinity of St Margaret’s Bay and Dover Harbour.
Dover RNLI Coxswain, Mark Finnis, said: 'The group were caught out by a rising tide. Thankfully the quick and well co-ordinated search and rescue response meant all 36 casualties were rescued and were lucky to escape without serious injuries, but they've had a traumatic experience.'
The all-weather lifeboat from Dover RNLI and both inshore lifeboats from Walmer RNLI were launched to take part in the search and rescue operation, alongside the Langdon Coastguard Rescue Team and the Coastguard search and rescue helicopter.
Volunteer crew members from Walmer RNLI were the first on scene and quickly located a group of casualties. The agile D class lifeboat manoeuvred close to shore and started transporting small groups of casualties at a time to the station’s larger Atlantic 85 lifeboat. The Atlantic 85 then safely transferred them to Dover RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat.
The all-weather lifeboat launched its Y boat, an inflatable powered boat which can access areas the lifeboat cannot reach, to pick up casualties from the shoreline.
With four children unaccounted for, the crew of Walmer’s Atlantic 85 started to search along the cliffside towards Dover when the helm thought he heard shouting. Taking off his helmet, Andrew Coe heard the shouts more clearly and the crew quickly located four children on the rocks. The D class lifeboat moved in to pick them up and safely transported them onto the Atlantic 85 lifeboat which took them out to Dover’s all-weather lifeboat.
Andrew Coe, Helm at Walmer RNLI, said: ‘This was a great team effort between our three lifeboats at Walmer and Dover RNLI. The crew of our D class and the Y boat from Dover displayed excellent boat handling skills, working very well together with a nasty swell rolling.’
All 36 casualties were safely transported back to Dover lifeboat station; 31 people by the all-weather lifeboat and 5 people by the Coastguard helicopter. All casualties were assessed by the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAMB) and fortunately none required hospital treatment.
Deputy Launching Authority at Dover lifeboat station, James Salmon, said: ‘As we approach the summer with lighter evenings, this incident highlights how easy it can be to get cut off by the tide whilst out walking. The group also faced the dangers of cliff falls along this iconic stretch of coastline.
‘Surprisingly, the biggest risk when enjoying our coastline can be activities such as coastal walking and running. It’s easy to get caught out by unexpected tides and waves. We encourage people to keep themselves safe and treat water with respect by staying away from cliff edges and areas prone to cliff falls, sticking to marked paths and checking local hazards and safety information, such as tide times, before setting out.’
Notes to Editors
· Walmer RNLI operates two inshore lifeboats – a D class and an Atlantic 85 class.
· Dover RNLI operates an all-weather lifeboat. Dover’s Severn class lifeboat carries a small Y boat, which is an inflatable daughter boat complete with a 15hp outboard engine. This small craft can be launched with a crane and is used in moderate conditions to access areas where the lifeboat cannot reach.
· Dover Lifeboat returned to station at 11.20pm and Walmer lifeboats returned around midnight.
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 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.
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