Sea rescue dramas lead to new safety reminder

Emergency crews close to South Pier after swimmers got into difficulties
Emergency crews close to South Pier after swimmers got into difficulties
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Lifeboat crews were forced into a dramatic double rescue after several swimmers got into difficulty close to two of the resort’s piers.

Blackpool RNLI lifeboat crews were called out around 7.30pm on Tuesday to reports a man was seen “distressed” in the water near Central Pier.

After rescuing the man and giving him treatment, crews were called out again minutes later after reports of two swimmers struggling near South Pier. Fortunately both people had returned to shore by the time crews had arrived.

Paul Parton, deputy launching authority, said crews had a busy evening.

He added: “At about 7:30pm this evening the RNLI Blackpool Lifeboat crews were contacted and told that there was a distressed person laid in the sea just to the south of Central pier.

“A D-Class lifeboat and its crew were towed by Land Rover to the location and found a male casualty in the water.

“Lifeboat crewmen entered the sea and carried the man out of the water and laid him in the lifeboat.

“He was then quickly returned to the lifeboat station where he was kept warm and first aid treatment given by RNLI lifeboat paramedic crewmen.

“He was then transferred to Blackpool Victoria Hospital by ambulance.

“As the crew were making the lifeboats ready for re-deployment they were informed by the police that there was some concern regarding two people in difficulties in the sea at South Pier.

“The RNLI Blackpool D-Class inshore lifeboat re-launched and proceeded quickly to the scene.

“The two people had returned to shore and the lifeboat ensured that the area was safe before returning to the station.”

Earlier this year the RNLI launched its Respect The Water campaign in a bid to reduce drownings around the UK.

Coastal fatality figures from 2010 to 2014 showed an average of 24 people die around the north England coasts each year.

Of the 121 people who died over the past five years, over half were taking part in activities like walking, running, climbing and boating and were, therefore, unlikely to have intended to enter the water.

Slips and falls while walking and running contributed to the most coastal deaths in the region, accounting for 31 per cent – 38 deaths.

Last month Ashley West, 26, tragically drowned close to North Shore after getting into difficulties.

Michael Avril, RNLI community incident reduction manager for the north of England, said Tuesday’s rescues should serve as a warning to residents in the resort.

He added: “The water might look inviting, but it can be dangerously unpredictable, with hazards which can be fatal if not respected.

“Cold water is a major risk for anyone who ends up in the water – intentionally or otherwise.

“The body’s reaction to sudden immersion in cold water will trigger uncontrollable gasping, which can draw water into the lungs and lead to drowning. The coldness will also gradually shut down the use of limbs, making it very difficult even for strong swimmers to stay afloat.

“Currents under the surface can overwhelm even the strongest swimmers.

“They can drag people out of their depth so quickly, and if you try to swim against them you’ll become exhausted.”