A canoeist came to the aid of a man who got into difficulty off the County Down coast when he was swept out to sea on an inflatable lilo yesterday afternoon (Wednesday).
He was rescured by RNLI lifeguards based at Cranfield Beach who were alerted at 3.40pm by Belfast Coastguard that a swimmer was in distress in the sea near the Sandilands Holiday Park.
The alarm was raised by friends on the beach after the man who was using an inflatable lilo was swept 300m out to sea by an offshore wind.
Lifeguard Danielle Rafferty controlled communications as senior lifeguard Peter Kinkaid and lifeguard Richard Cleave immediately launched the RNLI’s Rescue Water Craft and made their way to the scene.
On route to the casualty the lifeguards observed a canoeist waving his hand in the air. The casualty, who was thought to be in the water for 45 minutes, and struggling for 20 minutes, was found clinging to the canoe.
According to the RNLI the man was extremely cold, shivering and showing signs of hypothermia.
The lifeguards immediately took the swimmer, put him on the rescue water craft and brought him back to Cranfield Beach where they began to administer casualty care.
The lifeguards worked with the Kilkeel Coastguard team to ensure the casualty was kept warm until he was transferred into the care of an ambulance crew.
Speaking following the call out, RNLI Lifeguard Supervisor Jason Nugent said: “We would like to wish the casualty a speedy recovery after what must have been a frightening experience for him.
“We would also like to commend the casualty’s friends for raising the alarm and the canoeist who stayed with him until the lifeguards arrived on scene.
“Today’s rescue was a good example of the various emergency services working well together to bring someone to safety and we would like to thank our colleagues in the coastguard and ambulance service.
“We would remind anyone planning a trip to the beach to always swim between the red and yellow flags on a lifeguarded beach.
“We would ask the public to also remember that inflatables such as lilos are designed for pools and not the open sea where they can be easily swept out by offshore winds and lead you into difficulty. Never swim alone and if you do see someone in trouble dial 999 or 112 and ask for the Coastguard.”