Weymouth RNLI volunteers involved in major air and sea search
Volunteer RNLI lifeboat crew members in Weymouth launched both the town’s lifeboats last night (Wednesday 20 July) after a swimmer got into difficulty while swimming in the sea off Durdle Door.
The inshore lifeboat (ILB), Phyl Clare III, was launched at 5.31pm at the request of local the coastguard after reports that a man was in distress in the water.
The crew arrived on scene to find he had already made it to shore and was being assisted by a member of a local Coastguard Rescue Team and a winch man from the Coastguard’s Rescue 104 helicopter.
Two volunteer crew members went ashore with first aid equipment as the man was suffering from hypothermia. However, they were not required to administer first aid and the man was airlifted and taken to hospital.
The situation progressed when coastguards asked the ILB crew to carry out a search of the shoreline. This was amid concerns that a second man, believed to have been with the distressed swimmer, might now be missing. Coastguards also requested Weymouth RNLI launch their all-weather lifeboat (ALB), Ernest & Mabel, to assist in the search. The crew launched her at 6.18pm and both lifeboats joined two Coastguard helicopters in searching for the man.
However, information then came to light that the second man was actually a member of the public who had gone into the sea to help the casualty – and he was safe and well on dry land. With this in mind, the two lifeboats were stood down by coastguards at 7.48pm and both volunteer crews returned to Weymouth RNLI lifeboat station.
Then at 9.55pm the pagers sounded again, as both lifeboats were tasked to reports of a suspected paddleboard drifting in the middle of Portland harbour. The inshore lifeboat arrived on scene first and identified the item as an old kayak which had been disused for some time and was covered in barnacles.
The inshore lifeboat volunteers conducted an initial search to ensure nobody was in the water and were joined by the all-weather lifeboat when she arrived on scene shortly after.
The Atlantic lifeboat took the kayak into shore to waiting Coastguard where the decision was made to call the search off, at 10.45pm. Both lifeboats returned to station at 11pm.
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Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates over 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.