Kent RNLI lifeguards rescue 25 and resuscitate a six-year-old girl

Lifeboats News Release

RNLI lifeguards working on two beaches in Thanet, Kent, have been describing unprecedented numbers of rescues they have carried out -seeing 24 people rescued in a single day at Ramsgate Main Beach.

(left to right) Botany Bay RNLI lifeguard Amy Napier, Senior Lifeguard Ailsa MacRae and lifeguard Kane Philpott.

RNLI

(left to right) Botany Bay RNLI lifeguard Amy Napier, Senior Lifeguard Ailsa MacRae and lifeguard Kane Philpott.

The lifeguards also used their world-class training to perform a successful CPR on a six year old girl who had collapsed and stopped breathing at Botany Bay Beach. In addition, they rescued a man in his 50s, also at Botany Bay, who was out of his depth and being bashed against the landmark chalk sea stack to the west of the beach.

Figures just released show that on Friday 31 July, which HM Coastguard reported as having the highest number of call-outs in four years, RNLI lifeguards Neil Morgan and Chris Wilson, patrolling on Ramsgate Main Beach had to rescue 24 people who were in danger of being swept out to sea by rip currents.

Those rescued included children, adults and the elderly. In one incident, lifeguard Neil Morgan had to dive into the water with his rescue tube after spotting two children who had been caught in a rip current and were being swept towards the harbour entrance. He and Chris also escorted a further six children to safety.

In another incident lifeguards took to a rescue ATV (quad bike) to get close to a group of swimmers who were in danger and close to the harbour entrance and persuaded them to come to shore for their safety.

‘Those numbers are highly unusual,’ said RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Ellie Hopper. ‘That’s probably the most assists any of our lifeguards have had to make in a single day. Most of these people needed help after going too far out into the water and then realising they were going to get in trouble’.

Ramsgate Main is a popular sandy family beach next to the Royal Harbour and the Marina, but swimmers can often get caught in rip currents. These are strong currents running out to sea which can quickly drag people away from the shallows of the shoreline and out into deeper water. The fastest rips can reach 4-5mph, faster than an Olympic swimmer.

Two days later on the afternoon of Sunday 2 August, RNLI lifeguards at Botany Bay were called into action at 3pm after a six-year-old girl, who was paddling in the sea, suffered a seizure, fell unconscious and stopped breathing.

An off-duty doctor, Dr Shankari Maha, began CPR which was then taken over by RNLI Senior Lifeguard Ailsa MacRae and Lifeguard Amy Napier. Newly trained lifeguard Kane Philpott, on his second day in the role, arrived with the first aid responder bag and coordinated the ambulance response.

A short time afterwards the girl began breathing and lifeguards continued to administer oxygen and monitor her vital signs until handover to the paramedics. She was taken to hospital and has since recovered from her ordeal and returned home.

‘The lifeguards showed such courage and bravery,’ said Lifeguard Supervisor Ellie Hopper. ‘You have to be so confident in yourself and your first aid skills to do something like this and it says a lot about their training that they felt entirely comfortable working alongside a Clinical Lead GP to help save this young girl’s life’.

Earlier that same morning, also at Botany Bay, RNLI lifeguard Amy Napier, was alerted to a swimmer in difficulty after a man came running along the beach alerting her to someone stuck behind the distinctive chalk stack and struggling to keep his head above the water.

Amy immediately headed out on her rescue board and discovered the man, who was in his 50s, out of his depth and being battered by the waves against the chalk cliff. He was able to grab hold of the board and then Amy escorted him to shallower water where he was able to make it safely to shore.

‘We would always advise anyone heading to an RNLI lifeguarded beach to make sure you swim between the red and yellow flags where the lifeguards are patrolling and constantly observing,’ said Ellie Hopper.

‘Much of our work on the beaches is offering safety advice to the public, particularly about tide times and rip currents, but as these incidents show when something goes wrong our lifeguards use their knowledge and expertise to go straight into action’.

Photograph: (left to right) Botany Bay RNLI lifeguard Amy Napier, Senior Lifeguard Ailsa MacRae and lifeguard Kane Philpott.

Note for Editors:

If you find yourself caught in a rip current, try to remember the following key safety advice:

  • Don’t try to swim against it, you will quickly get exhausted.
  • If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
  • If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
  • If you can’t swim – FLOAT to live by leaning back in the water, extending your arms and legs, and resisting the urge to thrash around to gain control of your breathing.
  • Always raise your hand and shout for help.
  • If you see anyone else in trouble, alert the lifeguards or call 999 or 112 and ask for the coastguard.

  • Despite the ongoing challenges posed by Covid-19 and social distancing the RNLI is providing a lifeguard service on 176 beaches this summer, while RNLI lifeboat crews and HM Coastguard remain on call 24/7 ready to respond to emergencies.
  • During last year’s school summer holidays RNLI lifeguards responded to 5,264 incidents involving under-18s across the UK.
  • In the same school holiday period, they saved 92 lives across all age groups.
  • Rip currents accounted for 1,557 incidents dealt with by lifeguards last year in the UK with 95 lives saved.
  • They also helped to reunite nearly 1,800 lost children and teenagers with their families and aided 346 people in incidents involving inflatables.

RNLI Media Contacts:

Julie Rainey, RNLI Regional Media Manager, London and South East, Julie_rainey@rnli.org.uk (07827) 358256

Paul Dunt, RNLI Regional Media Officer, London and South East, paul_dunt@rnli.org.uk, 07785 296252

For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789

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