Kent RNLI Lifeguards show rescues are as crucial on the beach as in the water
The traditional image of an RNLI lifeguard in action sees them racing into the water with a rescue board. But each year RNLI lifeguards also attend thousands of emergency incidents out of the water, as four Broadstairs lifeguards demonstrated recently.
During the course of just two hours, the four lifeguards, who were patrolling Viking Bay in Broadstairs, gave medical attention to a confused and disorientated man, helped get a woman with a broken toe get to hospital and provided vital assistance to an unconscious young woman.
‘Our lifeguards receive world-class training to carry out rescues in the water and saved 127 lives across the UK last year, but what many people don’t realise is that they are also expertly trained in first aid and casualty care,’ said Lifeguard Supervisor Lucy-Jane Macgowan.
‘Often our lifeguards are the first people on the scene if an incident occurs on or near the beach and their experience and knowledge can be vital in those few minutes before a paramedic or ambulance arrives,’ she added.
Last year RNLI lifeguards attended 17,414 incidents and helped 20,538 people. The three incidents at Viking Bay on the afternoon of Friday 18 August demonstrate what a broad range of skills the lifeguards need to do their job.
The first call for help came just after 3pm when Senior Lifeguard Jordan Box went to the aid of a confused and disorientated man on the promenade. The man, who was in his 70s, had suffered an injury to his head and Jordan, 23, treated his wound, carried out a medical assessment and stayed with him until an ambulance arrived on the scene.
Little more than an hour later lifeguards Alex Harding, 18 and Harry Bradford, who is 16 and in his first season as an RNLI lifeguard, attended to a woman in her 60s who had broken a toe on the beach while walking across a rock pool. Unable to walk, the lifeguards put together a trolley equipped with body boards to help her get safely off the beach. She was then taken to hospital
Harry and Alex were back in action just half an hour later and joined by RNLI lifeguard Anna Taylor, 19, when they were alerted by a member of the public to a young woman, who was lying down unconscious on the promenade.
With serious concerns about her health the lifeguards made sure the woman’s airways were clear and gave her oxygen while they waited for paramedics to arrive on the scene and rush the woman to hospital.
‘It all happened right near the end of the day and really put the skills of our lifeguards to the test,’ said Lucy-Jane. ‘The last incident was particularly upsetting, but our lifeguards handled the situation brilliantly and put their training into action with total professionalism’.
‘Assisting people on the beach may not be as dramatic as seeing them racing through the waves but it can often be just as vital,’ added Lucy-Jane. ‘There’s little doubt if a member of the public hadn’t spotted the young woman and alerted the lifeguards to assist we could have been looking at a tragedy’.
Photo caption: Broadstairs RNLI lifeguards (left to right) Alex Harding, Jordan Box (Senior Lifeguard) Anna Taylor and Harry Bradford.
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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 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