Two children were rescued after getting into difficulty while body boarding at a beach in Cornwall.
One lifeguard, who asked not to be named, is calling for lifeguards to be reinstated on Cornwall’s beaches and fears more incidents will occur.
Currently there is no lifeguard service on any of Cornwall’s beaches.
Today thousands of people have headed to Cornwall’s beaches to make the most of the sunny weather. Many car parks are full with some people describing the situation as “carnage”.
The lifeguard said two young children had to be rescued in St Ives after being blown out to sea this morning.
“As the beaches are starting to increase in numbers, that increases the risk dramatically, and without the services that are normally in place, the chances are much higher for something happening,” he said.
“Just today a couple of small children on body boards were blown out to sea and were rescued, thankfully, by an off-duty lifeguard who just happened to be sitting on the beach with his girlfriend. This is just the start of the hot weather and we’re not even having challenging sea conditions.”
The lifeguard said he and his colleagues are “very frustrated” by the situation, adding that he feels he has a moral obligation to protect people in his local community.
“It’s a bit of Russian roulette,” he added. “Until those services come back we are just going to have to wait for something to happen potentially before the people – the general public – know there’s no lifeguard service.
“We have been told the reason we can’t work is because of this pandemic but yet the government is opening up public spaces. We don’t have parks. This is our park.
“We are providing road sweepers and council workers and dog wardens potentially, why aren’t we providing lifeguard cover for our community?”
The lifeguard said that beaches are dynamic environments and there are several risks.
He added: “The most important thing is that we have got this big gap in the community safety of the coast now. There is no cover other than coastguards which are going to be a reactive coastguards. Lifeguards are proactive. They prevent these things from happening in the first place.
“I’m frustrated that we haven’t got the right people in place. It’s a simple solution – start putting lifeguards on beaches.”
No RNLI patrols
The RNLI says it is hoping to bring back cover in the coming weeks.
A statement issued by the RNLI says: “We’re still working with Cornwall Council to provide a lifeguard service on beaches as quickly as possible. Setting up a lifeguard service on any beach takes time, while we have done as much as we can to prepare during lockdown, there was limit to what we could do under the Government’s restrictions.
“We learnt of the easing of lockdown restrictions in England at the same time as everyone else and have since been working through the new guidelines to ensure we adhere to them, implementing the changes that they necessitate and – importantly – are able to protect our lifeguards when they are operating on beaches this summer.
“Cornwall Council have also been working hard to ensure that the beach environment is safe for our lifeguards to provide an effective service.
“In the meantime, we’d urge those heading to the beach to:
• Protect your family by following key safety advice to save lives
• In an emergency dial 999, and ask for the Coastguard
• Have a plan – check the weather and surf forecast, tide times and read local hazard signage
• Keep a close eye on your family – on the beach and in the water
• Don’t allow your family to swim alone and don’t use inflatables
• If you fall into the water unexpectedly, FLOAT TO LIVE.
• For further information and key safety advice visit RNLI/beach2020 and share these messages with friends and family for a safer summer.”