RNLI lifeguards win Cornwall Emergency Services Award 2019

Lifeguards News Release

A team of RNLI lifeguards from St Ives have won the Cornwall Emergency Services Award for 2019 after saving the life of a man on Porthminster beach this summer.

Checkered Photography

Pictured are the winners Katherine, Yasmin and Elis, with Colin's family and representatives from Landal Gwel an Mor

The third annual Cornwall Emergency Services Celebration took place on Thursday 5th December 2019 in Portreath, Cornwall. Organised by Landal Gwel an Mor, the festive evening saw 125 local emergency workers attending across the spectrum of the countys services including Coastguard, Search and Rescue, Air Ambulance, RNLI, Fire service, Ambulance, Police and RSPCA.

The free to attend event was created by the resort as a celebration, to give thanks to the countys emergency service workers for their hard work and commitment. The event offers a chance for our local heroes to have the night off and let their hair down with welcome drinks and canapes, a festive sit-down dinner followed by live music and dancing.

An integral part of the evening, The Cornwall Emergency Services Award, was introduced to the event last year, to honour a person or crew for an incident where they had a big impact on someones life. Following a call out for nominations from members of the public, this years worthy winners were chosen from the array of entries, with the award presented to a team of Penwith lifeguards from the RNLI for the role they played in saving a man’s life this summer.

Colin Prentice (age 60 from Nottingham) fell suddenly ill on Porthminster beach, St Ives on August 23rd, 2019 with a severe bleed to the brain whilst on holiday with 30 members of extended family. The initial thought was that Colin had suffered a heart attack. Unconscious on the sand, the familys first reaction was to seek help by notifying the lifeguards on the beach who took immediate control of the situation.

Richard Prentice, Colin’s brother-in-law, said: 'Once the lifeguard crew knew that what they were dealing with was a matter of life or death, their knowledge, experience, professionalism, and training came to the fore. Everyone just clicked into action. From arriving at the scene they showed calmness, thoughtfulness and did what they had to do. In what seemed like hours they made Colin comfortable, rendered the necessary first aid and controlled the situation.'

The RNLI lifeguards - Yasmin Mathews, Katherine Woods, Elis Richards, and supervisor Lloyd Davies - worked quickly and efficiently to administer casualty care to stabilise Colin, call in the other teams needed and clear the beach as well as supporting the distraught family. It was the quick response of the lifeguards on the beach that day who saved his life. The incident started with the RNLI but soon turned into a multi-service operation with Coastguard and Cliff Rescue also involved followed by Cornwall Air Ambulance dispatched, having to land on the busy beach to airlift Colin to Treliske Hospital, Truro.

Colin was in a critical condition, on life support, with the outcome not looking promising. However, little by little Colin started to show signs of improvement, then moved to Derriford Hospital where he continued to make a miraculous recovery. Three months later, after time being in a rehabilitation unit, Colin is doing well and can now eat for himself, talk and has just started walking. Colin, an army man since joining at the age of 16, for the past 2 years has been overseeing the development of a new rehabilitation centre for wounded soldiers and veterans in Loughborough, where he has since been treated himself. With the extensive nature of his illness, his chance of survival was very slim and this has been put down to the quick response of the RNLI that day.

Richard continued: 'What happened to Colin that day will stay with us all for the rest of our lives. A nightmare unfolding around us that no one could have predicted. The situation was horrible and could have been tragic. Except for that day it wasn't. That day people we never knew, people who thought that Friday 23rd was just going to be like all the other days, made the difference. The RNLI lifeguards, paramedics and the Air Ambulance worked tirelessly to keep Colin stable and give him a chance of survival.

'When there seemed little hope, they never gave up. Without a shadow of a doubt, we know that the beach team's actions were the reason Colin is still here today.'

The Cornwall Emergency Services Award 2019 was presented at the event to Lloyd Davies, Yasmin Mathews, Elis Richards & Katherine Woods, RNLI Penwith Lifeguards In appreciation of service, commitment, and compassion.

Bill Haslam, Chief Executive of Landal Gwel an Mor, said: 'In Cornwall, we have a formidable line-up of services and front line workers, many of which are volunteers, all helping to keep the county safe, so the Cornwall emergency services event is about offering our gratitude. We have all been touched or relied on the emergency services support at some point so this event is poignant for each of us in our own way. We want to thank all the front line workers who are making a difference, working hard and showing kindness in the toughest of conditions.'

Checkered Photography

Katherine, Elis and Yasmin

Key facts about the RNLI

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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