A seventeen year old RNLI lifeguard has been praised for his courageous actions in rescuing three children who got into difficulty swimming off Ramsgate in separate incidents on the same day.
In one of the rescues, Mowgli Palmer, who is based on Ramsgate Main Beach, had to act so fast he jumped into the sea fully clothed after spotting a 14 year old boy disappearing beneath the water around 50 metres offshore.
The drama began on the afternoon of Saturday, July 12 when lifeguards on the beach saw two swimmers, a boy and a girl, both aged 15, being dragged around the back of the East Pier after being cut off by the tide.
Mowgli, who is in his first full year as an RNLI lifeguard, immediately grabbed two rescue tubes, jumped on his rescue board and paddled out to the teenagers and helped them get to shallow water. He kept them safe while he waited for assistance from the Ramsgate RNLI inshore lifeboat.
The children were then picked up by the volunteer lifeboat crew and taken back to the main beach where Senior lifeguard Gabe Drew carried out health checks before they were reunited with their parents.
Then, the same afternoon, Mowgli was patrolling the shoreline at Ramsgate Main Beach when he spotted a boy and his uncle throwing a ball to a second boy who was swimming out to retrieve it from the sea. The second boy was a weak swimmer and Mowgli watched as his head suddenly went under the water several times.
Despite being fully clothed and wearing a jumper and bum bag, Mowgli didn’t hesitate to dive into the water and swim out 50 metres to rescue the boy and bring him safety back to shore. Once there Senior Lifeguard Gabe Drew administered first aid before the teenager was released into the care of his parents.
Lifeguard Supervisor Ellie Hopper said Mowgli had acted with real courage during both rescues: “He is one of our youngest lifeguards and to save three lives in a day is amazing. Our lifeguards receive world-class training in lifesaving but to do what he did takes real courage’.
“His observation skills in spotting the swimmers in difficulty were first class and then to act so quickly was exceptional. He is very good on a rescue board. Going round the back of the pier is quite a paddle, maybe 300 metres – and then he went on to carry out another rescue that same afternoon.”
A busy weekend
It turned out to be busy weekend for RNLI lifeguards. That same afternoon at Viking Bay, RNLI lifeguard Alex Wilmshurst waded into the water to assist a man in his early 30s who had jumped off a paddleboard and suffered a serious ankle injury.
The man was around 10 metres from the shore but in considerable pain. Alex was able to bring him and his board to the shoreline where he was assisted by lifeguard Simona Thompson and Senior Lifeguard Tasmin Wilmshurst.
The lifeguards stayed with the man while they waited for a first responder and then the ambulance to arrive and then they assisted getting the casualty off the beach.
This was the first time Alex and Tasmin, who are brother and sister and have been RNLI lifeguards for around five years, have worked together on the same beach.
“It was top notch,” said Lifeguard Supervisor Stuart Cattell. “Tasmin is a new senior but that’s the second major injury she has dealt with. The ambulance service was particularly busy that day so it was a great example of how all the different rescue and emergency organisations worked together in what was a difficult situation that went on for quite some time.”
The following day (Sunday 12 July) lifeguards at Botany Bay were called into action at around 5pm after a middle-aged man dislocated his shoulder while playing with his children on the beach.
The man, from London, was in a lot of pain and Senior Lifeguard Ailsa MacRae (pictured), with help from lifeguard Josh Crottie, made him comfortable and administered first aid. With no mobile signal on the beach the lifeguards also used the communication equipment in their lifeguard hut to co-ordinate with the South East Coast Ambulance Service and help plan the casualty’s evacuation from the beach, which is accessed by a steep slope.
“The lifeguards did such a good job,” said Lifeguard Supervisor Ellie Hopper. “The family didn’t know what to do and they relied on the lifeguards. Ailsa and Josh helped move the man up the slope to the ambulance and stayed with the family long after their shift ended to make sure they were all safe.”