RNLI lifeguards at Polzeath rescued 32 people last night after they extended their patrol hours.
With a large number of people in the water and difficult conditions on the high spring tide, the lifeguard team stayed on past their normal finishing time of 6pm to ensure everybody was safe.
The lifeguard team, made up of Ben Miskowicz, Chris Rowlands, Phil Bartlett, Scott Temple, Christian Parker and Craig O’Rourke, were patrolling the beach yesterday (Monday 11 August) and when 6pm approached they realised the conditions were too dangerous to finish their lifeguard duties.
The team stayed on and rescued a total of 32 people, including seven swimmers and 25 bodyboarders, many of them children. They eventually packed down the beach at 7.30pm, an hour and a half after their normal operational finishing time.
Senior lifeguard Ben Miskowicz explains: ‘The conditions at Polzeath this week are particularly challenging, we have a high tide, strong onshore winds and large swell. The winter storms have changed the typography of Polzeath and now at high tide we have some rip currents at both the northern and southern end of the beach. The northern rip is particularly prominent at high tide at the moment and between 6pm and 7.15pm last night the lifeguards assisted 32 people who’d fallen off the bank of sand and straight into the path of the rip current.
‘I was at the cliff top unit at the south end of the beach and Chris was at the northern end while Craig, Phil and Christian were in the water on rescue boards. As we had a higher view we were able to spot casualties and guide the lifeguards in the water to them. I could see how strong the rip was, when the lifeguards stopped paddling on the rescue board they were pulled away very quickly, it was incredibly strong.’
Today is the highest tide of the year, with high tide at Polzeath at 7.15pm, so lifeguards are urging people to take extra care in the conditions.
Chris Wafer, RNLI lifeguard supervisor, said: ‘The lifeguard team did a fantastic job last night in challenging conditions and received praise from many members of the public for their efforts in keeping people safe.
‘We’ve seen strong onshore winds and a big swell combined with spring tides in recent days which have created these difficult conditions. With another large tide tonight it’s possible the lifeguard team may stay on later again to ensure everybody is safe. If you are heading to the beach please speak to the lifeguards to find out the hazards and take heed of their advice.’
To help keep children safe in the sea this summer, the RNLI has partnered with the ASA to offer Swim Safe. Providing free open-water swimming improver lessons to children aged between 7-14, the programme is running at Bude throughout the summer. For more information go to http://www.swimming.org/go/parents/swim-safe/
Author: Emma Haines
The RNLI added in a Facebook post:
“32 people were rescued at Polzeath beach in Cornwall last night – after lifeguards extended their patrol hours. With their 6pm finish time approaching, and a large number of people still in the water and a high spring tide, the team realised the conditions were too dangerous for them to leave their post. When people began to get caught in the path of a rip current, the lifeguards were able to leap into action. This week sees some of the highest tides of the year, so if you’re visiting the coast, remember to #RespectTheWater and visit a lifeguarded beach where possible. ”
Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland from 236 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 180 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
Learn more about the RNLI
Contacting the RNLI – public enquiries
Members of the public may contact the RNLI on 0300 300 9990 or by email.
The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number CHY 2678 in the Republic of Ireland