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Father thanks RNLI lifeguards who rescued his two young boys at Porthtowan

Lifeguards News Release

Two boys who found themselves out of their depth and in difficulty at Porthtowan were rescued by quick-thinking RNLI lifeguards to the relief of their family.

RNLI/Emily Trestrail

Mark Evans and Ishmael Hamon

Chris Smith had been enjoying time at the beach with his family when his sons James, 13, and Scott, 11, got into difficulty in the sea after a rogue wave pulled them into a strong rip current.

Chris Smith said: ‘It was really fortunate the RNLI lifeguards were on the beach as we had been very clear to the boys about the importance of swimming between the flags and not going out too far. The event really highlighted to me how quickly things can change. I was very impressed by the speed in which the lifeguards reacted and how they managed the whole situation. I am extremely grateful to them.’

During a morning briefing on Friday 20 July lifeguards on duty at Porthtowan decided that as the tide was incoming with large surf that they would put the inshore rescue boat (IRB) in the water to patrol the tidal cut off areas and be ready if needed in any area of strong current.

RNLI lifeguard Lewis Rosewell said: ‘It was around 10.30am and there were around 35 people in the water when we noticed two young swimmers getting pulled out to sea after a rogue wave drained quickly out to sea into a very strong flash rip current. The boys were out of their depth and in difficulty. We responded straight away with a lifeguard on the rescue board as well as the inshore rescue boat (IRB).’

The IRB helm Mark Evans and crew Ishmael Hamon located the boys struggling to stay afloat just as one of the boys started to disappear beneath the surface. They were very quickly picked up and returned to the shore where an assessment was carried out on them both.

The boys were following RNLI guidance by swimming between the red and yellow flags. This meant that even though there was a rogue wave the lifeguards were able to spot them straight away and respond immediately.

In the UK, the majority of RNLI lifeguard incidents involve rip currents. They are a major cause of accidental drowning on beaches all across the world.

On arrival at the beach the boys had spoken to the RNLI’s fundraising team that were offering safety advice including what to do if they found themselves in difficulty.

Lifeguard Supervisor Drustan Ward said: ‘This incident could have been a lot more serious if the boys hadn’t stopped and listened to the safety advice from the fundraising team at the beach entrance. They knew to stay calm and use one arm to wave for assistance when they got into trouble. The lifeguards on duty were well prepared and their skills and quick thinking ensured the boys were safely returned to the shore. We would advise anyone who sees someone in difficulty in the water to fight their instincts to go in the water themselves and to call 999 and ask for the coastguard.’

They were reunited with their father, who was advised to attend medical care due to the possibility of one of the boys inhaling sea water.

The RNLI’s Respect the Water campaign is a vital part of the RNLI's work to halve coastal drownings by 2024. The RNLI’s top advice to help you stay safe at the beach

  • Go to a lifeguarded beach and swim between the red and yellow flags.
  • Before going into the sea, consider your ability and the conditions; swimming in the sea is very different to swimming in a pool.
  • When you enter the water, take time to acclimatise to the temperature.
  • Have someone watching you from the beach and make sure they are able to call for help.
  • If you get into difficulty, keep calm and float on your back to regulate your breathing before calling for help or swimming to shore if it is safe to do so.

For more RNLI safety advice visit RNLI.org/RespectTheWater

Note to editors

Picture and caption attached. Credit Emily Trestrail

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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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