“When people have a drink common sense goes out of the window.”
Paul Parton, an operations manager at Blackpool Lifeboat Station, shakes his head as he utters the sentence which triggers memories of the countless times he has risked his life to help someone in danger.
He is about to experience his 44th summer with the resort’s Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), and it’s fair to say he has seen it all.
The 65-year-old may no longer be on the frontline and going out in one of three inshore lifeboats, but he still plays a large role in organising crews and was around for last year’s record breaking summer when the team handled 92 ‘turn-outs’ – more than twice as many as usual.
The volunteers dealt with everything from children stranded in inflatables to drowning. And they are now getting ready to tackle another busy period in the coming weeks. Mr Parton said: “We get sailboats, kids in inflatable crafts and even plane crashes, but invariably these days it’s people in the water and they are either drunk or depressed.
“We are expecting that again this year because people just don’t realise how to respect the sea.
“If the tide is against the sea wall they think the sea is like a swimming pool and go in.
“But it’s not, the sea is constantly moving and people won’t get out where they go in, and that’s when it’s calm. If people go in when it’s rough they are very lucky to get out again.”
The station will take delivery of a faster, more advanced Atlantic 85 lifeboat on Monday, enabling them to get out to rescues quicker in what every brave man in the crew expects to be a hectic summer.
Safety campaign reveals the danger of the sea
The Gazette’s Think Sea Safety campaign was launched following one of the most tragic deaths on the Fylde coast in recent years. David Sagar, 17, of Lewtas Street, Blackpool, was walking on the sea wall opposite Gynn Square when he fell into the sea and died. Blackpool’s Lifeboat crew launched and pulled the former Bispham High School pupil, but he was pronounced dead at the scene. Since then, the campaign has involved speaking to people who were lucky enough to escape the sea’s clutches after getting into difficulty and raised awareness of the many dangers the water poses.