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Poole RNLI save two lives after flurry of incidents

Lifeboats News Release

Volunteers at Poole RNLI have saved two lives after an inflatable was swept out to sea after a busy day of incidents on Sunday (9 August).

Just before 7pm Sunday (August 9) the Atlantic was requested to launch by UK Coastguard to a report of a dinghy with 4 people on board that had been seen drifting out to sea off Bournemouth Pier, as the lifeboat made its way to the scene, news came through that the dinghy had managed to get back ashore. Then the Coastguards re-tasked the lifeboat to a ‘Pink Flamingo inflatable’ that was drifting out to sea with two people on-board, as the lifeboat arrived on scene the people and the ‘Flamingo, had sorted themselves out and were safe.

The Coastguard then redeployed the lifeboat to a report of a missing male, but again as the lifeboat crew made their way, news came back that he was safe.

Then, the lifeboat was alerted by people on Bournemouth Pier to help a 7-year-old that was drifting on an inflatable ‘Lollipop’, out beyond Bournemouth Pier, off to sea, the lifeboat got the ‘Lollipop’ inflatable and as one of the crew took the girl ashore, checking that she was okay, people on the pier waved to the lifeboat again that another dinghy was heading out past the pier, this time with an 11 year old. The lifeboat once more bought the blow-up dinghy back safely ashore.

The wind was from the North East and had freshened as the day went on.

With everyone back ashore the crew headed back to the station, reflecting on how many inflatables they had helped.

The lifeboat was refuelled, washdown and made ready for service by 9.45pm

Volunteer Helm Alex Evans said;

‘Thanks to the vigilance of the people on the pier, the children on the inflatables were spotted. People don’t realise that an offshore wind is potentially very dangerous. It may seem lovely down on the beach and calm but as you get further from the shore the wind will increase progressively. Then when you try to make your way back against the wind it can be very difficult, you get tired and the wind may capsize your dinghy and you then have the struggle righting your dinghy or keeping hold of your inflatable, and all the time you could be blown further offshore into even stronger winds. Thankfully the children got back safely to dry land. However, it could have been a very different story. Inflatables are designed for pools and not the sea where they can easily be swept out, if you still want to use them, then we would recommend wearing a suitable life jacket or buoyancy aid.

Then shortly after the Atlantic had refueled and wash down from the previous tasking a request came through from the UK Coastguard of a report of two more people in the water with an inflatable some distance offshore.

The lifeboat swiftly launched.

Southbourne Coastguard search and rescue volunteers were down on the beach and had eyes on the casualties in the distance, they were some 600 metres south of Bournemouth Pier. With the light now fading time was of the essence,

The Police helicopter was also on scene, they had located the two people, who had now become separated from their inflatable, the helicopter had dropped ‘two floating on devices’, the casualties had managed to grab hold of one of them.

With the helicopter hovering overhead as a marker, the lifeboat was soon alongside the two people in the water, from the time of launch from the station they were on scene within 12 minutes.

The lifeboat crew recovered a teenage female onto the lifeboat first followed by her father. Both had been in the water for 40 minutes; they were cold and distressed.

The lifeboat crew wrapped them in protective blankets, whilst carrying out casualty care checks and the crew immediately requested an ambulance to go to North Haven steps.

The lifeboat made best speed to North Haven, where they transferred the casualties to South West Ambulance service, who took them too hospital.

Meanwhile, as the lifeboat was transferring the casualties another tasking had come through. The lifeboat and the D Class, were requested to search for a missing swimmer off Bournemouth, the lifeboat made its way and the D Class launched but as they were heading down the harbour, information came through that the person was safe and well ashore, thank goodness, so both lifeboats were stood down and returned to station, where they were refueled, washed down, sanitized and made ready for service.

Volunteer Helm Dave Riley said;

‘The two people we saved tonight were extremely lucky. Although the weather has been hot, the sea temperatures are still cold enough to cause hypothermia when submersed for 40 minutes as they both were. Given another 10 minutes, it could have been a very different outcome. Today has seen Poole Lifeboat volunteers launch to an unprecedented number of inflatables and blow up dinghies, our advice is to leave them at home and do not use them on the beaches. We wish the two people well and a speedy recovery.'

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Poole Lifeboat with the inflatable lollipop


Poole volunteers reaching for the people in the water

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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