Volunteer lifeguards praised after series of South Tyneside rescues in one day

Lifeguard volunteers have been hailed after a string of rescues along the South Tyneside coast.

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 6:20 pm

All three of the rescues took place on Saturday, July 17.

RNLI Lifeguard Luke Dixon rescued two children stuck around the Trow Rocks on South Shields beach around mid-afternoon.

With the start of the ongoing heatwave seeing beaches packed, the RNLI Sandhaven team spent their day monitoring the South Shields seafront areas. Luke stayed in the water the entire day on the rescue board in preparation for any possible incidents.

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Volunteer lifeguards have been praised after their fast-acting responses saw three rescues in quick succession.

At around 3pm, he noticed two young girls struggling around the Trow Rocks. The girls had been swimming along the sand bank, when they encountered trouble around a hole that had developed alongside the rocks.

The offshore wind had pushed the children further out to sea, where they began struggling against the current.

The charity’s lifeguard swam out to the girls on the rescue board, where he found them in bad shape. Both were panicking, he said, with one struggling to keep her head above water.

To calm them down, Luke sat them on top of the board floating in the sea for around five minutes, to ensure they knew they were safe. The two casualties responded and picked up immediately, before Luke swam them back to shore.

Once they reached waist-deep water, the two children ran towards their awaiting parents.

Senior Lifeguard Feargus Scherczer spoke highly of his team’s quick reaction, saying: “We know it is going to be a busy summer, so we are taking preventative measures to stop incidents from occurring.

“If people do decide to visit a beach this summer, choose a lifeguarded beach, where our team will be on-hand to assist you.”

At 2:55pm, the RNLI Sandhaven team were alerted of a young boy who had been blown out to sea in a toy inflatable. The child’s parents had dialled 999 and asked for the UK Coastguard, who radioed the lifeguards.

The boy, aged 12, was swept over 200 metres away from the shore by a strong offshore wind.

Senior lifeguard Feargus Scherczer, assisted by lifeguard Thomas Spencer, started up the inshore rescue boat.

En route to the young boy, however, the pair were informed by shoreside lifeguards that a 36-year-old man had also been swept out to sea.

After assessing the situation of the young boy, who remained calm in the inflatable, the two lifeguards responded to the other incident immediately. The casualty was over 350m offshore, near the end of the pier, and was close to drowning – and, unlike the young boy, he had no watercraft to hold onto.

The man was back to shore by means of an inshore rescue boat and then another lifeguard’s board.

The lifeguards then returned to the boy who was sitting on the inflatable, before taking him ashore, where he underwent a series of medical checks.

Happily, the boy remained uninjured and was reunited with his parents.

Senior Lifeguard, Feargus Scherzer, praised the young boy’s calmness during the incident.

“It was essential that he remained calm, his cooperation with the lifeguards meant that we could safely reunite him with his parents,” he said.

“The parents’ instinct to phone 999 and ask for the Coastguard meant that our lifeguard team were quickly alerted of the incident.”

When visiting an RNLI lifeguarded beach this summer, it is advised that toy inflatables are not used in the water, with the wind easily drifting them out to sea.

Feargus also spoke about his team’s lightning fast decision-making during the rescue.

He added: “It was a difficult but split-second decision. The young boy had an inflatable and was in a stable condition, where as the man was declining rapidly.

"Luckily, both were swimming between the red and yellow flags directly so we could see them immediately."

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