Margate RNLI volunteers and Thanet RNLI Lifeguards saved three swimmers in a multi-agency rescue yesterday (August 5).
UK Coastguard received several 999 calls around 12.30pm reporting that a woman had fallen off an airbed and was in distress off Foreness Point, around a mile east of Margate. Margate’s RNLI inshore lifeboat was tasked along with the coastguard rescue helicopter from Lydd Airport and Margate coastguard rescue team. RNLI lifeguards at Botany Bay were also contacted and asked to assist.
When the lifeboat arrived on scene they found a male and female swimmer clinging to the rescue board of the lifeguard from Botany Bay. It is understood the male was one of two men who had swum out to help the woman.
There was a choppy sea and both casualties were cold and distressed. They were taken onto the lifeboat which went to shore to land them and seek medical attention – at this stage South East Coast Ambulance Service had also been alerted.
The intention was for the lifeboat to then start a search for the third swimmer but on the passage back to the beach the lifeboat crew spotted the third swimmer who held up his hand before sinking below the surface.
He was pulled into the lifeboat, and was very cold, exhausted and showing signs of near drowning. The decision was made to also pick up the lifeguard who was battling his way back to shore to assist the lifeboat crew.
The rescue helicopter stood by to provide paramedic-trained crew assistance ashore if required. Casualty care was provided by the lifeboat crew and lifeguard, South East Coast Ambulance Service personnel who had arrived on scene and coastguard officers who also provided radio communication coordination between all units and Dover Coastguard.
The swimmers were handed into the care of the agencies ashore and after the lifeboat and helicopter made a final sweep of the area and the lifeguard returned to Botany Bay by the lifeboat all rescue units were released and returned to station.
Peter Barker, Deputy Launching Authority, Margate RNLI said: “This was a complex operation where speed was of the essence and where the skills and training of all involved led to the outcome that could have been so different.
“If anyone sees a swimmer in difficulties, we urge them to resist the natural temptation to try and assist but to dial 999 and ask for coastguard while keeping the casualty under observation and where possible shouting encouragement to them.”