Charity, Latest News, Poole | Posted: Tuesday, August 11th, 2020 at 9:48 am | return to news

“Leave your inflatables at home” advises RNLI after unprecedented evening of call outs

Poole Lifeboat volunteers responded to a number of call outs and saved two lives on Sunday, 9 August.

Atlantic lifeboat call outs in the last 24 hours
Atlantic lifeboat call outs in the last 24 hours

Following a hectic evening recovering those who got into difficulty as their inflatables drifted out to sea, the two in peril were spotted with an inflatable some 600 metres south of Bournemouth Pier by Southbourne Coastguard beach and rescue volunteers as the light faded.

Time was of the essence and the Atlantic lifeboat arrived within 12 minutes of being launched shortly after 9.45pm by UK Coastguard. It had only just been washed down and sanitised after a previously long stint of call outs and rescues.

When the lifeboat arrived, a police helicopter was hovering over the casualties. It had dropped floating devices because the pair had become separated from their inflatable. They had managed to grab hold of one of the devices. The lifeboat crew recovered a teenage female and her father who were cold and distressed. They had been in the water for 40 minutes.

The casualties were wrapped in protective blankets and transferred to an ambulance at North Haven steps and taken to hospital.

Meanwhile another call came through. Both the Atlantic lifeboat and the D Class were requested to search for a missing swimmer off Bournemouth, the lifeboat made its way and the D Class was launched, but as they were heading through the harbour, information was relayed that the person was safe and well ashore. Both lifeboats were stood down and returned to station, where they were refuelled, washed down, sanitized and made ready for service.

Volunteer helm, Dave Riley, said, “The two people we saved tonight were extremely lucky. Although the weather has been hot, the sea temperatures are still cold enough to cause hypothermia when submersed for 40 minutes as they both were. Given another 10 minutes, it could have been a very different outcome. We wish the two people well and a speedy recovery.”

Earlier that evening the Atlantic lifeboat was requested to launch just before 7pm by UK Coastguard to a report of a dinghy with four people on board that had been seen drifting out to sea off Bournemouth Pier. It managed to get to shore safely. The lifeboat crew were re-tasked to a pink flamingo inflatable that was drifting out to sea with two people on-board, which also managed to get to safety. A report of a missing male was then received, but again as the crew made their way, news came back that he was safe. The lifeboat was then alerted by visitors on Bournemouth Pier to help a 7-year-old who was drifting on an inflatable lollipop beyond Bournemouth Pier, off to sea. The crew rescued the inflatable and as one of them took the girl safely ashore, people on the pier waved to the lifeboat again that another dinghy was heading out past the pier, this time with an 11-year-old aboard. The lifeboat brought the blow-up dinghy back to the shore.

Volunteer Helm Alex Evans said, “Thanks to the vigilance of the people on the pier, the children on the inflatables were spotted. People don’t realise that an offshore wind is potentially very dangerous. It may seem lovely down on the beach and calm but as you get further from the shore the wind will increase progressively. Then when you try to make your way back against the wind it can be very difficult. You get tired and the wind may capsize your dinghy and you then have the struggle righting your dinghy or keeping hold of your inflatable, and all the time you could be blown further offshore into even stronger winds. Thankfully the children got back safely to dry land. However, it could have been a very different story. Inflatables are designed for pools and not the sea where they can easily be swept out, if you still want to use them, then we would recommend wearing a suitable lifejacket or buoyancy aid.”

He added, “Today has seen Poole Lifeboat volunteers launch to an unprecedented number of inflatables and blow-up dinghies, our advice is to leave them at home and do not use them on the beaches.”

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