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Camber Lifeguards race to the rescue of injured Kite-surfer

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI lifeguards based at Camber Sands, in East Sussex, faced a race against time after a kite-surfer was seriously injured when one of his lines snapped and his kite spiralled out of control slamming him into the ground several times.

RNLI lifeguard Leon Driver on the scene with the injured man being treated by paramedics.

RNLI/Nathan Wilmer

RNLI lifeguard Leon Driver on the scene with the injured man being treated by paramedics.

The impact was so severe the man was unable to move and was trapped just feet from the water's edge with the tide coming in fast. Alerted by a local kite surfing school, at 4.40pm on Thursday 3 August, lifeguards Brett Wood and Leon Driver raced to the scene, about one kilometre to the east of them, in an RNLI patrol vehicle.

When they arrived, they discovered the casualty, a man in his forties, conscious and alert but complaining of lower back and hip pain. With the tide almost upon him, the lifeguards had no choice but to put the man on a spinal board, designed for people with back injuries, and evacuate him further up the beach.

They were then able to put their world-class casualty care training into effect and assess the man for possible spinal injuries. Paramedics arrived on the scene about 15 minutes later and the man was carried off the beach on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance. On examination at hospital it was found that the man had broken his pelvis.

‘This is exactly the kind of situation we base our training exercises on,’ said RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Nathan Wilmer. ‘There were four or five people at the scene who didn’t know what to do and our lifeguard team got a grip on the situation.’

‘With the in-coming tide the lifeguards had to move him quickly, it’s life over limb at the end of the day in that situation,’ Nathan added. ‘They used their training to the full and dealt with this incident very professionally'.

Brett, 18, from Australia and Leon, also 18, from Hastings, are part of a team of RNLI coastguards who are patrolling Camber Sands for the first time this year. Leon is in his very first season with the RNLI.

RNLI lifeguards currently patrol more than 240 beaches in the UK and Channel Islands and last year saved 127 lives. As well as rescuing people from the water they also receive extensive training in responding to medical emergencies. In total the charity’s lifeguards attended 17,414 incidents last year helping 20,538 people.

RNLI media contacts

▪ Paul Dunt, RNLI Press Officer (London/East/South East) 0207 6207416 07786 668825

▪ Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East)
0207 6207426 / 07785 296252 /

▪ For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

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RNLI lifeguards Brett Wood (nearest to camera) and Leon Driver stay with the casualty until he is taken to hospital.

RNLI/Nathan Wilmer

RNLI lifeguards Brett Wood (nearest to camera) and Leon Driver stay with the casualty until he is taken to hospital.

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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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.


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