The lives of three swimmers have been saved by the prompt response and joint actions of Margate RNLI volunteers and Thanet RNLI Lifeguards in a multi-agency rescue.
UK Coastguard received several 999 calls around 12.30pm yesterday (Wednesday 5 August) reporting a female having fallen off an airbed and in distress off Foreness Point around a mile east of Margate. Margate’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was tasked along with the coastguard rescue helicopter from Lydd Airport and Margate coastguard rescue team. RNLI lifeguards at Botany Bay were also contacted and asked to assist.
The lifeboat quickly arrived on scene where they found a male and female swimmer clinging to the rescue board of the lifeguard from Botany Bay around half a mile off Foreness Point. There was a stiff south-westerly breeze and choppy sea and both casualties were cold and distressed: they were embarked onto the lifeboat which made best speed back towards the shore to land them and seek medical attention – at this stage South East Coast Ambulance Service had also been alerted.
The intention was for the lifeboat to then commence a search for a third swimmer who had gone to the aid of the initial casualty but on the passage back to the beach with the first two casualties the lifeboat crew spotted the third swimmer who held up his hand and sank below the surface. He was recovered into the lifeboat, was very cold and exhausted and showed signs of near drowning. The decision was made to also pick up the lifeguard who was battling his was back to shore to assist the lifeboat crew with casualty care for the third swimmer.
The rescue helicopter meanwhile stood by to provide paramedic-trained crew assistance ashore if required. Casualty care was provided by: the lifeboat crew and lifeguard, South East Coast Ambulance Service personnel who had arrived on scene and coastguard officers who also provided radio communication coordination between all units and Dover Coastguard.
The swimmers were handed into the care of the agencies ashore and after the lifeboat and helicopter made a final sweep of the area and the lifeguard returned to Botany Bay by the lifeboat all rescue units were released and returned to station.
Peter Barker, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate RNLI said: ‘This was a complex operation where speed was of the essence and where the skills and training of all involved led to the outcome that could have been so different. If anyone sees a swimmer in difficulties, we urge them to resist the natural temptation to try and assist but to dial 999 and ask for coastguard while keeping the casualty under observation and where possible shouting encouragement to them’.
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• Peter Barker, RNLI Margate Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer 07974 064304 firstname.lastname@example.org
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• For enquiries outside normal business hours, contact the RNLI duty press officer on 01202 336789
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