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Penarth RNLI volunteers upskill in lifesaving throw-bag technique

Lifeboats News Release

Station open day volunteers get valuable response training for people in trouble in the water near the lifeboat station.

Jason Dunlop demonstrating the correct handling of a throw-bag with Charlie Harris, Annie Blackburn and John Smerkinich with the A85 behind

RNLI/Nick White

Throw-bag training

Throw-bag training is not as simple as it looks as Penarth RNLI volunteers found out. If you were walking along Penarth sea front on Sunday morning you might be forgiven for thinking there was some emergency incident happening. On closer look, you will have seen and heard the station volunteers shouting instruction to their colleague simulating a person panicking in the water and then throwing a rope to them as a means of rescue.

The rope or line is actually coiled up inside what is known as a 'throw-bag'. The rope is held whilst the bag is thrown to someone in trouble in the water and as it travels through the air the rope unravels allowing the casualty to be pulled back to the shoreline.

It is especially important in an emergency situation not to endanger anymore people than necessary during a rescue attempt. That is why the RNLI always advises not to enter the water to rescue someone - as you could end up getting into difficulty yourself.

Lifesaving techniques such as telling someone to Float to Live in the first instance - so they can get control of their breathing and then swim to safety if they are able to, or having a throw-bag to deploy and pull them to safety, avoids additional people putting themselves in jeopardy. In cold water incidents there is a high risk of cold water shock, which can lead to panic, cardiac issues and inhaling water.

Annie Blackburn explained: ‘Although we are training with a throw-bag, more importantly, dialling 999 and asking for the Coastguard is fundamental to lifesaving - meaning you get help and expertise on the way as quickly as possible whilst you continue deploying the throw-bag to save someone.’

Jason Dunlop, Penarth RNLI Lifeboat Operations Manager who was training the volunteers explained:

‘At first, the training objective might seem a little obvious however, the RNLI places people in the reality of the moment by taking them step by step through a probable event timeline highlighting the action which will enable the optimum outcomes.

'Understanding the importance of being in command, assertive, and heard are skills that are highly important too.’

Trainee John Smerkinich agreed saying: ‘Calling 999 for help and following the Float to Live guidance is paramount, to then allow time to look for lifesaving tools or something to assist with the rescue.’

John’s colleague Charlie Harris added: ‘I think we will all need some more practice with our bag throwing technique to be confident - but the learning and role play have been invaluable.’

If you want to know more about cold water incident management and Float to Live follow the below link

Notes to editors

Media contacts
For more information please contact Penarth RNLI Lifeboat Press Officer, Nick White on 07818 680 667 or [email protected].

Alternatively you can contact Claire Fitzpatrick-Smith, Regional Communications Manager on [email protected] or 07977 728 315, or the RNLI Press Office on 01202 336789 / [email protected].

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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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