RNLI lifeguards rescue family of five drifting out to sea in inflatable dinghy

Lifeguards News Release

Last Tuesday 22 June at 3:50pm Exmouth RNLI lifeguards were tasked by HM Coastguard to rescue a family of five rapidly drifting out to sea in an inflatable dinghy near Sandy Bay beach, Devon.

Exmouth RNLI

RNLI lifeguard using the rescue water craft

RNLI lifeguard Jake Butt immediately launched the rescue water craft (RWC) with the help of lifeguard Connor Gray as crew. Meanwhile senior lifeguard Kaifen Phippen stayed at the lifeguard base on Exmouth beach to co-ordinate the rescue and communications between the Coastguard.

At this point in the day the tide was coming in but there were strong winds blowing off the shore y meaning any inflatables would be blown out to sea very quickly. As Jake and Connor made their way west around the headland from Exmouth beach towards Sandy Bay, Kaifen was communicating with the Coastguard for further details about the casualties.

Once a description of the inflatable dinghy had come through, Jake and Connor were able to locate the casualties quickly. As they approached the dinghy it was clear to see that one of the casualties, a 19-year-old male was very cold . Due to the number of casualties, including the male and four females aged; 46,22,15 and 13, lifeguard Connor got in the water and stayed with the inflatable dinghy, whilst lifeguard Jake brought the first casualty back to the beach to safety and to get warm.

Although there was a strong off-shore wind, the sea conditions were flat and allowed Connor to safely stay with the other casualties in the inflatable dinghy and reassure them, whilst Jake continued to use the RWC to drop more family members back to the beach.

Once all five family members were safely back on the beach and the Coastguard and lifeguard Kaifen were informed. Both Jake and Connor assessed the medical condition of each casualty. It was decided that Connor would stay with the 19-year-old male to make sure his condition was stable as he warmed up in a restaurant away from the outside elements.

Jake returned to Exmouth beach to help Kaifen resume lifeguard operations. Once Connor was happy that the male casualty was ok and required no further medical assistance, he called Exmouth base to request a pick up from Sandy Bay. Jake used the RWC to pick up Connor from Sandy Bay beach and both returned to Exmouth beach to continue their lifeguard duties with Kaifen.

Henry Irvine RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor says,

‘An off-shore wind is a wind that blows from the land or beach out to sea. Before heading to the beach you should check the local weather forecast. It’s important to remember that once at the beach, weather conditions can change quickly. By visiting a lifeguarded beach you can ask the lifeguards about the weather forecast for the day. If there are off-shore winds, lifeguards will fly an orange windsock which means it’s not advisable to use inflatables. This is because anything inflatable that sits on top of the water, will quickly get blown out to sea in the direction of the wind, making it very difficult to return to shore. If you ever see anyone in trouble drifting far out to sea, alert the lifeguards or call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.’

Notes to editors

· Please find attached a picture of the rescue from the RNLI lifeguard’s helmet cam, credit: Exmouth RNLI

· Follow the link to see which beaches are currently lifeguarded https://rnli.org/find-my-nearest/beaches-with-lifeguards-on-patrol

· To support the RNLI’s lifesavers, go to: www.rnli.org/donate

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