Off-duty lifeguard rescues exhausted surfers drifting out to sea in rip current
An off-duty RNLI lifeguard has been praised after running into the sea in just his shorts to rescue three people in difficulty in a rip current.
Kevin Brader was walking by the coast with his family and friends at around 3pm on Tuesday 3 April when they spotted three surfers drifting out to sea at Treyarnon Bay.
‘They were on foam surfboards in the rip current on the far side of the beach’ says Kevin. ‘All three were trying to paddle against the rip.’
After heading to the water’s edge to have a better look he could see they were in trouble.
‘There were two men and a teenage girl and I tried to direct them to the sandbank, but they appeared too tired to paddle across,’ says Kevin.
It was at this point that one of the surfers got off his board and attempted to swim against the rip current.
‘I decided that they needed immediate assistance and I entered the water,’ he recalls. ‘I swam to the man who was swimming against the rip. I told him to get onto his board and then dragged him and his board onto the sandbar and directed him onto the beach.’
Using the man’s board, Kevin went back out to assist the teenage girl, who he managed to get onto the sandbar.
In the meantime Kevin’s friend Bradley Nash had, on his request, accessed the out-of-hours RNLI board bin at the nearby lifeguard hut and fetched a rescue board.
Kevin is one of a team of experienced lifeguards who have access to emergency rescue equipment stored on beaches in case of exactly this type of scenario.
Kevin added: ‘I took the rescue board and went for the remaining surfer who was furthest out and unable to paddle any more through tiredness. He was also struggling to stay on his board.’
Helping the man back to shore, Kevin reunited him with the other surfers where he checked they were all okay and in no need of any medical assistance.
He says: ‘I advised them that there were lifeguarded beaches at Constantine and Harlyn during the Easter period and it would be safer to surf there should they wish to go back in.
Max Setti, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor for North Cornwall and Padstow, says: ‘We would always recommend anyone visiting the beach to do so at a lifeguarded beach where we have trained lifeguards who can advise beach goers on the safest areas to swim and surf.
‘Beaches at Harlyn and Constantine have lifeguard cover throughout the Easter holidays and from Monday (April 16) will continue to have weekend lifeguard cover until 5 May when full time lifeguard cover resumes.’
The out-of-hours responder kits such as the one at Treyarnon allow lifeguards to put their skills and knowledge into practice with the right equipment in the event of an emergency.
Max added: ‘It was fortunate that Kevin was near the beach that day and spotted the surfers in difficulty. The water at this time of year is particularly cold, but our lifeguards are highly trained to work in all conditions, and I praise Kevin for swimming out in his shorts to come to the aid of these three surfers.
‘For less experienced surfers it’s important to be aware of the surf conditions and only surf within your own ability.
‘This incident also highlights the RNLI’s work within the community with the out-of-hours response boxes set up with rescue equipment and the trauma bag. It is playing a vital part towards reducing lives lost at sea.’
The board bins remain set up during off-peak times to allow for off-duty lifeguards and trained members of the public to respond to out-of-hours incidents using the community rescue equipment stored there.
The best way to avoid rip currents is to choose a lifeguarded beach and always swim between the red and yellow flags, which have been marked based on where is safer to swim in the current conditions. This also helps you to be spotted more easily, should something go wrong.
If you do find yourself caught in a rip current, don’t panic or try to swim against it. Wave your arm in the air and call for help. If you see somebody else in trouble, don’t try and help them yourself, alert the lifeguards on duty or call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.
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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 over 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.