A Lifesaving Partnership

Cornwall Air Ambulance crew and RNLI lifeguards have been preparing for a busy summer season during a joint training session.

Two thirds of us are expected to head for the sands this summer. Whilst the majority will have a safe day out, this annual training event helps ensure when things do go wrong, casualties receive the best treatment possible and the public remain safe.

Around 20 RNLI lifeguards attended the training session, held at the Cornwall Air Ambulance base near Newquay.

Cornwall Air Ambulance paramedic Mark Fuszard, who led the training, said: “These sessions are really important to help the lifeguards understand the helicopter and its equipment to ensure a swift and coordinated response by the two organisations when there’s an incident.

“It’s also about helping keep the public safe. We realise that an air ambulance landing is exciting for the public, but ultimately we are there to help a casualty in their time of need.”

Every year the Cornwall Air Ambulance attends around 1,000 emergency calls throughout Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Dozens of those calls for help come from beaches, with 10 such incidents in May 2013 alone.

RNLI Lifeguards patrol 57 beaches in Cornwall, preventing incidents from occurring and responding immediately when they do happen, providing casualty care before paramedics arrive. With a total of 6,137 incidents last year, Cornwall was the busiest county in the UK.

With many beaches difficult or impossible to reach by road ambulance and casualties often in need of urgent medical assistance, the Cornwall Air Ambulance provides the essential link between beach and hospital, arriving on-scene in an average of 12 minutes from a 999 call being made.

RNLI lifeguard supervisor Leon Bennett said: “RNLI lifeguards and the Cornwall Air Ambulance team work very closely together during the summer season. A thorough shared knowledge of the equipment the lifeguards have on our beaches, the air ambulance team carry on board and how best to communicate is vital to the outcome of an incident.

“The RNLI lifeguards are trained to a very high standard and we aim to provide a gold standard lifeguard service. The Cornwall Air Ambulance plays a major part in the success that the RNLI lifeguard service has on our beaches when dealing with Major First Aids. We are extremely fortunate to have such a professional and highly trained air ambulance service to back us up on our beaches.”