'˜Respect the water' plea as girls rescued

An heroic RNLI volunteer who jumped into the sea to rescue two struggling young girls has warned of the dangers of underestimating the water.

Friday, 7th July 2017, 6:53 am
Updated Tuesday, 18th July 2017, 8:46 am
The RNLI crew pictured just minutes before the rescue

Blackpool RNLI volunteer Iain Procter-Dow, 35, dived into the water to save the two girls after one of them slipped beneath the waves while swimming on Wednesday evening.

They had been warned by crews 15 minutes earlier not to get out of their depth.

He said: “As we got next to them one of the girls had gone completely under the water and disappeared. That was when I jumped in.

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“I grabbed her and pushed her head up towards the surface of the water.

“I ended up holding one of them in each arm while the boat got nearer.

“This sort of thing mainly happens during the summer months during the school holidays. They have swam into a current that started to take them towards North Pier.”

The RNLI crew was able to reach the girls in record speed after they spotted the unfolding emergency while out on a training exercise.

The D-class lifeboat was only 100 metres away from the scene and reached the girls, both aged 11-years-old, within 30 seconds.

Iain said: “They were very lucky really, because we had been training a new crew, so we had been coming in and out with the boats.

“We had just re-launched when we heard them shouting. We had seen them earlier swimming, and when we heard them shouting we realised they had been taken out by a current and were out of their depth.”

The girls, who are believed to live locally, were helped into the boat and taken to the RNLI Blackpool Lifeboat Station.

Iain, who works by day as an emergency medical technician, then used his medical know-how to assess the girls’ condition while they waited for ambulance services to arrive.

He said: “They were showing signs of water inhalation, complaining of stomach pain and feeling sick”

The RNLI lifeboat at Blackpool has been launched around 25 times so far this year this and crews are now warning people in the area to ‘respect the water’.

Iain said: “It pays to find out when the tide comes in and out, and if you see the tide coming in make sure you’re not standing on a sand bank where the water will surround you.

“Always try to swim on a life-guarded beach. They’re there to keep an eye on you and protect you. Make people aware of where you are going and always have someone watching you so that if you do get into difficulties, they can raise the alarm.”

Blackpool RNLI volunteer lifeboat operations manager, Keith Horrocks MBE, said: “When the weather is nice lots of people head to the beach but it’s important to remember that the sea is still very cold even when the sun is out.

“People swimming in the sea can experience cold water shock, a potential killer that causes them to gasp for breath, swim hard and thrash around.

The girls have now been released from hospital after being treated for swallowing sea water. Iain said: “They have said they might try to come down next Wednesday to see us.

“They’re in a little bit of trouble with their parents because they told them they were going to the park, but they’re OK and that’s the main thing.”