False alarm sparks multi-service response
Three volunteer lifeboat crews and a coastguard helicopter were mobilised after a report of six people in the sea off Minehead sea front late on Friday night.
They were joined by police, ambulance and fire services after a member of the public made a 999 call at around 11.40pm.
Minehead’s two RNLI lifeboats were quickly launched and the Barry Dock lifeboat and a coastguard helicopter both joined the operation from South Wales.
But the rescue services were stood down after contact was made on the beach with the supposed casualties – a family on holiday at Butlins holiday centre.
Minehead RNLI spokesman Chris Rundle said the origin of the incident was unclear.
“It appears one family member was actually wading knee-deep in the sea but the whole group was reported as being in difficulties by a third party,” he said.
“It was a very confused situation but clearly when there is a report of persons in the water no-one can afford to take any chances.
“This actually turned out to be a very expensive response to a false alarm but the scale of the resources deployed was no more than was warranted by the situation as initially described.”
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 over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and, in a normal year, 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.