Double Rescue at Whitsand

The Cornwall Air Ambulance, RNLI Lifeguards and the Tamar Coastguard Rescue Team provided care for a 16 year old girl and an 83 year old lady in separate incidents at Whitsand Bay yesterday afternoon (8 August).

RNLI lifeguards were alerted by Falmouth Coastguard to the first incident at around 12.45pm. An 83 year old lady had fallen on rocks but her location wasn’t clear. RNLI lifeguards Beau Gillett and James Annells launched the inshore rescue boat (IRB) from Tregantle and checked the area around Freathy beach, then back to Tregantle before confirmation came though that she was at the far left hand corner of the bay, near Polhawn Fort.

RNLI lifeguard Aidan Hetherington also responded from Tregonhawke beach and ran the length of the bay towards the far corner before Beau and James picked him up in the IRB.

Cornwall Air Ambulance had also been tasked and arrived on scene at the same time as the lifeguards. Together the two teams were able to provide casualty care to the lady who had walked down the cliff path with her family before falling on rocks at the bottom. After ruling out a spinal injury they were able to put her in a more comfortable position and began treating wounds on her head and hands.

As she was conscious and talking, it was decided that the Cornwall Air Ambulance would transfer her up the cliff and she would be met by a land ambulance which would take her on to hospital.

At this time RNLI lifeguard Joe Saunders was providing casualty care to a 16 year old girl who’d dislocated her knee further along the bay at Sharrow beach. After an initial assessment in which she insisted that she was alright, the pain got worse and it was agreed that she needed help getting up the cliff. Before leaving the area, the Cornwall Air Ambulance was tasked to stop on route to pick her up. 

The Tamar Coastguard Cliff Rescue Team arrived on scene and helped the RNLI lifeguards clear a landing area for the Cornwall Air Ambulance to land.

Both casualties were transferred to a landing site at the top of the cliff where they were met by land ambulance and taken to hospital.

Joe Saunders, RNLI lifeguard said: ‘It was a lovely calm, sunny day at Whitsand Bay and the beaches are packed. At lunchtime, when we were dealing with the two major incidents, there were around 400 people on beach with a further 70 in the water.

‘Because of our location at the bottom of a very steep cliff, we rely on our colleagues at the Cornwall Air Ambulance to transfer casualties off the beach quickly. Both incidents today were prime examples of how essential their service is.

‘It’s always quite a dramatic sight, which attracts the attention of everyone on the beach and we need to work quickly to clear on area to create a safe landing site and keep people away. It’s all about team work between the emergency services working together.’

Paula Martin, chief executive of Cornwall Air Ambulance, said; ‘Every summer we naturally see an increase in the missions we attend on the county’s beaches.

‘Sometimes our services are required because a patient has a life-threatening illness or injury and needs to get to hospital quickly. In other situations, the geography of the beach makes it difficult or impossible to evacuate the casualty by land.

‘Whenever we attend an incident on a beach, we rely on the work of the RNLI and the other emergency services to help provide vital care to the patient, and also to keep other beach-goers safe around the helicopter. Yesterday’s incidents are another brilliant example of Cornwall’s emergency response charities working together.’