A LIFE-SAVING rescue mission was sparked after a man was left clinging to a rock after his kayak capsized on South Tyneside’s coast.
A police helicopter, Sunderland Royal National Lifeboat Institute (RNLI) and beach lifeguards were called into action yesterday after the 24-year-old got into trouble off Jackie’s Beach at Whitburn.
A 999 call was made to police at about 2.10pm after reports of a man clinging to a rock after his vessel capsized.
Humber Coastguard immediately drafted in two RNLI inshore lifeboats, a rescue water craft from Roker RNLI lifeguard unit, a helicopter from National Police Air Service; and a Coastguard rescue team from Sunderland
The man, from Whitburn, was swiftly located by Coastguards and the Helicopter 15 metres offshore, clinging to a rock surrounded by large kelp-beds.
Beach lifeguard Joe Mitchell swam to the victim and fitted him into a rescue tube, then swam him to the safety of one of the inshore lifeboats.
Once the man and the lifeguard were safely onboard the D class lifeboat, it was manoeuvred clear of the rocks into open water, where the casualty was transferred to the larger Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat.
After being assessed by RNLI casualty carers onboard, the man was taken back to Sunderland Marina.
He was taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital suffering from early signs of hypothermia and several cuts and abrasions to the legs.
Paul Nicholson, helmsman of Sunderland RNLI, said: ‘The successful rescue of this man was down to all the cogs in the wheel playing their part; but in particular the actions of lifeguard Joe Mitchell, who swam to the man and then towed him back through breaking seas and rocky ground to allow us to pull them both clear of the water.
“Once ashore the man was treated by paramedics before being taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital suffering from early signs of Hypothermia and several cuts and abrasions to the legs.”
RNLI senior lifeguard Joe Mitchell said: “During the season we train regularly to maintain our levels of fitness and skill to allow us to conduct rescues like this.
“Not only do we train as a unit, we also train regular with the RNLI lifeboat crews and other services to ensure we can all pull together to complete successful multi-agency rescues like today.”