Man saved by RNLI lifeguard after kayak capsizes off Whitburn


RNLI Beach Lifeguards Joe Mitchell (Left) and Ali Campbell (Right).

Sunderland RNLI lifeboat volunteers and beach lifeguards took part in a multi agency rescue mission this afternoon to save the life of a man who was left clinging to a rock after his kayak capsized.

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Shortly after 2:10pm this afternoon Northumbria Police notified Humber Coastguard that they had received an emergency 999 telephone call reporting that a man could be seen clinging to a rock off Jackie’s Beach; Whitburn after his kayak capsized.


Humber Coastguard immediately requested the launch of Sunderland RNLI’s two inshore lifeboats; a Rescue Water Craft (RWC) from Roker RNLI lifeguard unit; a helicopter from National Police Air Service (NPAS); and a Coastguard Rescue Team from Sunderland.


The man was quickly located by Coastguards and the NPAS Helicopter in a position 15m offshore clinging to a rock surrounded by large kelp-beds.


On arrival the RNLI D Class inshore lifeboat and RWC assessed the scene and decided the safest option was for a beach lifeguard ‘Joe Mitchell’ to swim to rock where the casualty was; fit him into a rescue tube; then swim him back to the D Class.


Once the man and the beach lifeguard were safely onboard the D class it was manoeuvred clear of the rocks into open water where the man was transferred to the larger Atlantic 85 inshore lifeboat. After being assessed by RNLI ‘casualty carers’ onboard; the man was then being taken back to Sunderland Marina at best speed.


Paul Nicholson, Helmsman of Sunderland RNLI said: ‘The successful rescue of this man was down to all of the cogs in the wheel playing their part; but in particular the actions of lifeguard Joe Mitchell who swam to the man and then towed him back through breaking seas and rocky ground to allow us to pull them both clear of the water.


Once ashore the man (24 year old from Whitburn) was treated by Paramedics before being taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital suffering from early signs of Hypothermia and several cuts and abrasions to the legs.


Joe Mitchell; RNLI Senior Lifeguard at Sunderland said: ‘During the season we train regularly to maintain our levels of fitness and skill to allow us to conduct rescues like this. Not only do we train as a unit; we also train regular with the RNLI lifeboat crews and other services to ensure that we can all pull together to complete successful multi agency rescues like today’.


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