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Late sun and surf in the south west meant a busy weekend for RNLI lifeguards

Lifeguards News Release

A busy weekend for RNLI lifeguards in the south west as people flocked to the beaches to enjoy the sun and surf.

Max Brady

Lifeguards at Widemouth Bay

The combination of warm weather and surf drew plenty of people to the coast over the weekend. The RNLI lifeguards patrolling a small number of operational beaches in the south west were kept busy with multiple people requiring their assistance.

Lifeguards patrolling at Polzeath in North Cornwall had a particularly busy afternoon on Saturday when they were required to provide emergency casualty care to a beach goer suffering a medical emergency. The on-duty lifeguards gave the required casualty care whilst awaiting the arrival of an ambulance.

Whilst the first casualty was being cared for, the lifeguards on patrol noticed someone in the water who appeared to be in difficulty. The lifeguards immediately went into the water and assisted the person back to shore. HM Coastguard were on scene and helped to transport the casualty to an awaiting ambulance.

A third incident unfolded whilst the lifeguards were in the midst of caring for the first two casualties. A member of the public collapsed on the beach due to ongoing medical problems. There was a free ambulance unit already on scene that the lifeguards were able to hand over to. All casualties were treated and taken to hospital.

As well as the lifeguard team of three on shift at Polzeath on Saturday, there were fortunately three off duty lifeguards happened to be at the beach, one of whom works as a lifeguard in neighbouring area Newquay.

Leon Bennett RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor for the area said:

‘Saturday’s events show how many incidents can happen at one time. We’re very pleased with how well the lifeguards handled a challenging situation, they put their training to good use.

‘We’re also hugely grateful to the off-duty lifeguards who stood in to assist with casualty care to ensure the beach could remain operational. It was a great example of collaborative work alongside the Coastguard and ambulance service.’

In Kingsbridge in south Devon, RNLI lifeguards patrolling at Bigbury-on-sea were tasked by the Coastguard to assist a person and their dog who had been cut off by the tide at a neighbouring beach. The lifeguards launched the inshore rescue boat (IRB) and safely got them onboard.

Accompanied by Hope Cove’s independent lifeboat, they returned the casualty and dog to shore. Bigbury Coastguard rescue team then took over their care. Both were unharmed.

Lifeguards at Bigbury-on-sea also rescued seven people from rip currents over the weekend. When visiting a lifeguarded beach, you should always swim between the red and yellow flags. If you find yourself caught in a rip, the RNLI advises:

- Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.
- If you can stand, wade don’t swim.
- If you can, swim parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
- Always raise your hand and shout for help.

Beaches in far west Cornwall were packed with hundreds of people enjoying the surf. On Saturday afternoon, at Gwithian beach the lifeguards’ casualty care was put to the test with a suspected broken ankle on the beach, followed by another medical emergency. Both casualties were treated by the lifeguards on the beach before making their own way to hospital.

Sennen’s lifeguards were kept busy assisting people in trouble in the sea. In one incident some people on paddleboards got stuck in a rip current, four of the paddleboarders required assistance to get back to shore and one was rescued by the lifeguards.

Across the region RNLI lifeguards were also busy giving out safety advise to people on the beach, ensuring that incidents were prevented before they could happen. RNLI lifeguards will continue to patrol some beaches in the south west until the end of October.

In Cornwall you’ll find lifeguards on Fistral, Perranporth, Portmeor and Sennen daily until Sunday 29 October.

Also being patrolled every weekend, and every day during the October half term are; Bantham, Tregonhawke, Praa Sands, Towan, Watergate Bay, Mawgan Porth, Porthtowan, Gwithian, Constantine, Harlyn, Polzeath, Widemouth, Croyde, Summerleaze, Woolacombe and Le Braye (Jersey).

To find your nearest lifeguarded beach, visit: Lifeguarded Beaches - Find Your Nearest Lifeguarded Beach (

Media Contacts

For more information please contact Anya Walton Media Engagement Placement [email protected] on 07890066217 or contact Amy Caldwell Regional Media Manager [email protected] on 07920 818807.

RNLI/Padstow Lifeguards

Polzeath on Saturday

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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Contacting the RNLI - public enquiries

Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 (UK) or 1800 991802 (Ireland) or by email.