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RNLI lifeguard saves a lady’s life at 30,000 feet

Lifeguards News Release

RNLI lifeguard Kerk Latham from Newquay in Cornwall saved a fellow passengers life when his RNLI casualty care training meant he was able to spot and treat a potentially life threating condition while on a flight back from Indonesia


RNLI lifeguard Kerk Latham

Kerk was flying back from Sumatra with his girlfriend and seated next to an elderly lady who quite quickly into the flight began to act a little strangely. He was concerned and continued to keep an eye on her. After about 20 minutes he alerted the flight attendants. Without anything obviously medically wrong the attendants dismissed her behaviour and offered Kerk and his girlfriend to sit elsewhere.

Kerk declined and continued to keep a watch on the lady, he says;

‘I was really concerned at this point. Her behaviour was confused and erratic, which could be mistaken for being drunk, however the training I have had in casualty care meant that I spotted the symptons of a hypoglycaemic episode. This occurs when there is not enough glucose, or sugar, in the blood. If left untreated it can have severe and sometimes fatal consequences.

I asked the flight attendants to ask if there was a doctor on board the plane and if they could provide a medical kit. The GP on board agreed with my initial diagnosis, and I was able to take a blood sample to confirm. At this point the lady was unresponsive and the Captain asked if he needed to land the plane. Thankfully by administering a glucose pill, after about 25 minutes the lady came round.

Without a doubt the casualty care training I have done as part of my training to be an RNLI lifeguard ensured I was able to spot the symptons early. I am really grateful that I was able to help the lady and thank goodness, if she hadn’t received the glucose when she did, it could have been fatal.

I received a round of applause from my fellow passengers and the airline gave me a $75 voucher!’

RNLI lifeguards across Cornwall are currently completing their two week induction training before starting back on the beaches for the Easter school holidays on 6 April, this included an intensive and comphrensive casualty care course which trains the lifeguards to be first responders to the ambulance service.

After completing his two week induction, Kerk will be back on Watergate Bay where he is a senior RNLI lifeguard.

Mark Preim, RNLI lifeguard supervisor says;

‘Kerk is one of the RNLI’s most experienced and professional lifeguards and while we’re all extremely impressed to know that he used his RNLI training to save a lady’s life, we’re not at all surprised. We’re really pleased to have him back on the beaches this season.’

Notes to editors

  • Please find attached a picture of RNLI lifeguard Kerk Latham credit RNLI

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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 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.

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