Buckie Lifeboat aids kayaker ‘chilled to the core’
Crew pagers sounded at 1215pm on Saturday 19 February, a sea kayaker having been reported capsized and in jeopardy, 100m off the rocks surrounding the former Strathlene swimming pool less than a mile east of Buckie.
RNLI volunteers dashed to the station, a crew was chosen and the lifeboat launched at 1225pm. In view of proximity to the lifeboat station, and to the shore, some of the volunteer crew not chosen to go to sea – including one who works as a paramedic – made their way to Strathlene, in the hope the casualty might make it to shore before the lifeboat arrived.
Coastguard rescue helicopter R151 from Inverness, and the Coastguard teams from Macduff and Portsoy were also mobilised, but would take longer to arrive on scene.
Coxswain Davie Grant brought Buckie’s Severn-class lifeboat ‘William Blannin’ to the closest point of safe approach and gave orders to launch the Y-boat – the daughter craft which has the shallow draft and manoeuvrability enabling it to safely approach rocky shores.
As the Y-boat approached, the kayaker reached the rocky shore – and the RNLI shore party also arrived on scene.
The lifeboat crew’s paramedic provided immediate first aid and assessed that the kayaker, although uninjured, was significantly hypothermic – chilled to the point where his body’s core temperature was dropping dangerously. The casualty would require precautionary evacuation to hospital.
At this point, Coastguard helicopter Rescue 151, and the Coastguard shore team, arrived. An ambulance was en route by road, but with the helicopter on scene, the fastest route would be by air. The casualty was transferred to the helicopter and flown to Raigmore hospital.
RNLB William Blannin was back on her berth and refuelled by 1.30pm
Coxswain Davie Grant says “This was an excellent example of rapid-response by our own crew and teamworking across the agencies.
“Despite recent storms, conditions at sea were fine for the kayaker’s planned trip. He was well equipped and was wearing a ‘dry-suit’, similar to those our own RNLI crew wear. That he became hypothermic after less than an hour in the water just confirms the combination of low air and water temperatures in the Moray Firth this time of year.”
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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