Weston-Super-Mare RNLI volunteers launched at 1740
Weston RNLI volunteers called to their old home to help a seriously ill person.
When a distressed man accessed Birnbeck Island and his life became at risk the local RNLI launched to give assistance.
Just before 5:30 pm on Saturday Swansea Coastguard paged the Weston RNLI Launching Authority to say there was a distressed person on Birnbeck Island. This is the island at the north of Weston Bay from which the RNLI launched its lifeboats for 132 years. They had had to leave the island last November because of the extremely dangerous condition of the Pier connecting Birnbeck Island to the mainland.
It was thought there was a risk to life so the decision was made to launch the D Class lifeboat Anna Stock. Due to the low water conditions the lifeboat was launched from the alternative launch site at the end of Marine Lake even though it was dark.
They began by a full search of island perimeter but found nothing. Then because the police were having difficulties gaining access to the island due to the dangerous nature of Birnbeck Pier, three of the crew walked onto the island using the concrete launching slipway in order to provide local knowledge. Upon accessing the island the Lifeboat crew and police immediately found the casualty conscious but slumped against the north side of the Lifeboat Shed. While the police attempted to rouse the casualty, plans were made to evacuate by boat, thus avoiding using the unstable Pier. However while this was being organised the casualty suddenly deteriorated.
With their highly developed first aid skills the lifeboat crew took over care from the police. The casualty was now unconscious and his breathing had become very shallow. The crew started to provide ventilatory support by bag and Oxygen. The police were hesitant to cross the Pier and called for helicopter assistance but this was 40 minutes away. By now the casualty had stopped breathing and such a delay would have likely resulted in death of the casualty.
In light of the casualty struggling to breathe and with immediate danger to life, three crew and two policemen carried him carefully by stretcher back across the walkway of the Pier to where paramedics were waiting to assist at the Pier gates.
Once across the Pier the three RNLI crew remained with the ambulance service providing support to the paramedic who was waiting there. After a time an ambulance arrived and transferred the casualty to hospital. The crew on the island then returned on the lifeboat to the mainland launching site thus avoiding any further need to transit the Pier.
It was 7:30 pm before the lifeboat was rehoused and ready for service.
Don Sutherland, chair of Weston Lifeboat Management Group said; ‘This is what our RNLI crews do. Despite the dangerous conditions they disregarded their own safety. Using the knowledge and skills they have developed from their training and with the dedication for which they are famous they have given this man his best chance of survival. I am so proud of all of them.’
RNLI notes to editors
Attached photograph shows the crew on the ground attending to the casualty at the Pier gates