RNLI lifeguards working on two beaches in Thanet have carried out an unprecedented numbers of rescues -including 24 people rescued in a single day at Ramsgate Main Beach and carrying out a successful CPR on a six year old girl who had collapsed and stopped breathing at Botany Bay.
They also rescued a man in his 50s at Botany Bay who was out of his depth and being bashed against the landmark chalk sea stack to the west of the beach.
On Friday, July 31 RNLI lifeguards Neil Morgan and Chris Wilson, patrolling on Ramsgate Main Beach, had to rescue 24 people who were in danger of being swept out to sea by rip currents.
Those rescued included children, adults and the elderly. In one incident, lifeguard Neil Morgan had to dive into the water with his rescue tube after spotting two children who had been caught in a rip current and were being swept towards the harbour entrance. He and Chris also escorted a further six children to safety.
In another incident lifeguards took to a rescue ATV (quad bike) to get close to a group of swimmers who were in danger and close to the harbour entrance and persuaded them to come to shore for their safety.
HM Coastguard reported the day as having the highest number of call-outs in four years,
“Those numbers are highly unusual,” said RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Ellie Hopper. “That’s probably the most assists any of our lifeguards have had to make in a single day. Most of these people needed help after going too far out into the water and then realising they were going to get in trouble.”
Swimmers can often get caught in rip currents off Ramsgate main sands. These are strong currents running out to sea which can quickly drag people away from the shallows of the shoreline and out into deeper water. The fastest rips can reach 4-5mph, faster than an Olympic swimmer.
CPR after young girl stops breathing
On Sunday, August 2, RNLI lifeguards at Botany Bay were called into action at 3pm after a six-year-old girl, who was paddling in the sea, suffered a seizure, fell unconscious and stopped breathing.
An off-duty doctor, Dr Shankari Maha, began CPR which was then taken over by RNLI Senior Lifeguard Ailsa MacRae and Lifeguard Amy Napier. Newly trained lifeguard Kane Philpott, on his second day in the role, arrived with the first aid responder bag and coordinated the ambulance response.
A short time afterwards the girl began breathing and lifeguards continued to administer oxygen and monitor her vital signs until handover to the paramedics. She was taken to hospital and has since recovered from her ordeal and returned home.
Ellie said: “The lifeguards showed such courage and bravery. You have to be so confident in yourself and your first aid skills to do something like this and it says a lot about their training that they felt entirely comfortable working alongside a Clinical Lead GP to help save this young girl’s life.”
Swimmer battered against chalk cliff
Earlier that same morning, also at Botany Bay, RNLI lifeguard Amy Napier, was alerted to a swimmer in difficulty after a man came running along the beach alerting her to someone stuck behind the distinctive chalk stack and struggling to keep his head above the water.
Amy immediately headed out on her rescue board and discovered the man, in his 50s, out of his depth and being battered by the waves against the chalk cliff. He was able to grab hold of the board and then Amy escorted him to shallower water where he was able to make it safely to shore.
Ellie said: “We would always advise anyone heading to an RNLI lifeguarded beach to make sure you swim between the red and yellow flags where the lifeguards are patrolling and constantly observing.
“Much of our work on the beaches is offering safety advice to the public, particularly about tide times and rip currents, but as these incidents show when something goes wrong our lifeguards use their knowledge and expertise to go straight into action.”
They do a fantastic job, but it’s a shame there are still no lifeguard facilities in Westgate’s West Bay this year, despite record numbers of people. A disaster waiting to happen.
I agree, I have a gut at Westbrook and it worries me that there are no lifeguards. So dangerous
I always thought that relying on volunteers for this vital task revealed a gap in our public services. There should be a proper public service like the Fire, Police or NHS.
With proper pay and a career structure. With bases along the coast where needed.
On call 24/7.
It’s a bit like dentistry that should be a part of the NHS but, for some reason, got left out so we end up with the worst teeth in Europe. (Americans make jokes about our teeth!)
The RNLI has such quality volunteers they deserve to be recognised as a vital service like the NHS and not left to scrape around for charity donations.
Then again, it would probably get privatised so we would be back at the beginning again.
Dentistry is part of the NHS.
I assume you mean all treatment should be free for everyone?
It’s free for children, low incomes, pregnant women.
It’s not hard to look after your own teeth and prevent a lot of problems.
These young people do a fantastic job – but they are not volunteers. They are employed by the commercial side of the RNLI who sell their services to Local Authorities.
Lifeboat crews are volunteers, usually with the exception of the coxswain and sometimes the engineer who are salaried employees of the RNLI.
Time for a free local beach app, highlighting particular dangers such as rip tides, dangers of getting cut off by the tide, etc, for each of our bays, linked to the tide tables. It could be advertised on every prom and cliff top. Any developers out there in need of a project?
Should be signs up stating which beaches are covered by Lifeguards. It’s only by chance you come across them if you are from out the area.
The lifeguards are another essential service and they do a great job in keeping people safe and rescuing those who get into trouble. They are very much in need at all the main beaches around Thanet but there are not enough to reach all so people need to be as careful as possible and don’t take chances, the sea is unforgiving. There are dangerous undercurrents, riptides you don’t see when in the water, even in relatively calm situations. ‘Respect the Water’
Was really impressed by lifeguards at Minnis Bay very clear signs, lifeguards constantly at water’s edge & ensuring all stayed within flags. It felt very safe to be there.