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A tricky rescue mission for the Falmouth RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew

Lifeboats News Release

It was just after 3.30pm when the pagers alerted the crew to the rescue. By 3:43pm the inshore lifeboat was on its way and by 3.54pm she was at the scene.

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The crew members were informed on the way that they were heading up the Helford River to a small creek, Polweveral Creek, where a 79 year old man had fallen down a 15 foot bank into the water whilst walking his dog. The Cornwall Air Ambulance and the SW Ambulance Trust, together with the Falmouth Cliff Rescue Team were all on the scene.

The casualty appeared to be quite badly injured with lots of blood showing through his bandages so they needed to get him to hospital as quickly as they could. The lifeboat crew successfully loaded the casualty into the lifeboat and after a very tricky manoeuvre managed to recover the helicopter winchman from the helicopter into the boat as well. The lifeboat then moved up the creek a short distance to a quay where they were able to land the casualty in his stretcher, the helicopter winchman and a lifeboat crew member. The casualty and the winchman were then recovered by high line to the waiting helicopter and flown off to hospital for treatment.

The man had been out walking his dog when he slipped and fell down the bank, injuring himself quite badly in the process. The dog, sensing something was wrong went to the head of the creek and started barking at a passerby. As a result the passerby was able to raise the alarm and the rescue services were called.

Lifeboat Crew Member Tom Bird said: 'This was a tricky operation because of the confines of the creek and the fact that the old gentleman needed to get to hospital as soon as possible. He undoubtedly owes his life to his dog, whose barking drew the attention of someone passing by and consequently alerted the lifeboat crew and other rescue services to his plight.'

The whole operation took approximately one and a half hours and by nearly 5pm the lifeboat was on its way back to station. By 6pm it had been washed down, refuelled and declared ready for service again.

Notes to editors

  • The crew for this tricky rescue were Tom Telford (helm), Tom Bird and Jamie Wakefield.

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