Team was tasked to reports of a person struggling in the water near the South Pier. Whilst proceeding, Cullercoats ILB was deployed and located the casualty, reported to be approximately 700m from the shore and partially submerged in the water. SSVLB was tasked to meet the ILB at South Shields Ferry Landing and assist with the casualty. On arrival at this location, the team met up North East Ambulance Service Hazardous Area Response Team (NEAS HART). Paramedics set about assessing the casualty in the warmth of the ferry office. As this occurred, reports came from several sources of 2-3 other possible casualties. Word came that Sunderland CRT officers and Tynemouth ILB had located several other casualties on the rocks south of the pier. 2 of these casualties were transported by ILB to the waiting ambulance crews at the ferry landing. With SSVLB assistance, these casualties were assisted into a waiting ambulance. A final casualty was brought by road to the ferry landing.
In total, 4 casualties were transported to hospital, primarily with hypothermia from being in the sea. As a result of the combined efforts of South Shields VLB, Sunderland CRT, NEAS and the volunteers of the RNLI lifeboats at Cullercoats and Tynemouth, 4 people were saved from a potentially much worse situation.
Also present at this incident was officers from Northumbria Police and a helicopter from the National Police Air Service.
Alongside the Police , we would like to remind people about the dangers of the sea as they enjoy spending time at the coast during this weekend’s warm weather. Everyone are reminded that open water can be deceptive and even if the water looks calm, powerful currents and tides can pose significant risks, however strong a swimmer you are. Even on hot days, the sea will be cold and this can have dramatic effects on the body that could lead to drowning.
While we want people to enjoy the hot weather, it’s important that people don’t put their lives at risk unnecessarily.