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RNLI Lifeguards rescue surfer swept towards treacherous rocks at Porthcothan

Lifeguards News Release

Porthcothan RNLI lifeguards responded to an incident on Friday afternoon (28 May) when a group of five surfers were suddenly pulled out to sea in a flash-rip current, which left a young female struggling in crashing waves close to dangerous rocks.

Steve Allen

Rescue helicopter 924 on scene at Porthcothan

Senior RNLI Lifeguard Keith Renders was in the sea on a rescue board when he spotted a group of five surfers being swept around the north end of Porthcothan towards Treyarnon. Responding quickly on his board, Keith paddled over to assist in what was already challenging sea conditions with big waves and a flooding tide.

Three of the surfers managed to get to safety on some rocks, whilst another made it back to the beach. However, the female surfer was still struggling in the water being swept by big waves towards the rocks. Keith made the decision to ditch his rescue board due to the difficult conditions so that he could make contact with the casualty.

With strong waves crashing onto them, Keith managed to tow the casualty to some rocks where he waited for assistance from the team and reassured the her that they would get her to safety. The Inshore Rescue Boat (IRB) was launched from neighbouring beach Constantine with Senior RNLI lifeguard Joe Jones as helm and Chris Hodson as crew.

Meanwhile RNLI lifeguard Gareth Barnes paddled out on a rescue board getting as close as he could to throw a VHF radio to lifeguard Keith. Other support was quick to arrive from the Coastguard and Padstow RNLI all weather lifeboat, but the conditions meant it was too dangerous to get close enough to evacuate lifeguard Keith and the casualty.

Keith used his VHF radio to directly communicate with the coastguard and request that Rescue Helicopter 924 winch them from their location on the rocks. Off-duty RNLI lifeguard Issey Barnes, who had been surfing at the time of the incident, was helping the team back on the beach by watching the other members of the public in the water and assisting with communication between the agencies.

Rescue helicopter 924 arrived on scene and was able to winch the casualty and senior lifeguard Keith to safety, where the casualty was then taken to hospital for further treatment.

Senior lifeguard Keith Renders said,

‘We urge anyone entering the water wanting to surf, to do so between the black and white flags. Rip currents can appear very suddenly and without warning, and it’s important that in unpredictable weather conditions you stay between the flags where the lifeguards can see you and come to your assistance if needed.’

Anyone planning a visit to the coast should remember and follow RNLI safety advice:

  • Have a plan – check the weather forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
  • Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
  • Do not allow your family to swim or surf alone
  • Do not use inflatables
  • If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE, fight your instinct to thrash around, lean back, extend your arms and legs, and FLOAT
  • In an emergency dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard

Notes to editors

· Please find attached a video and image of Rescue helicopter 924 above the casualty and lifeguard positioned on a rock in the water below, credit: Steve Allen

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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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