RNLI volunteers have joined the public's plea for life guards to return and prevent more deaths on the British coast
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) is under pressure today to reinstate lifeguards on British beaches after a number of incidents have led to fears more lives could be lost on the nation's coastline.
As temperatures soared yesterday, thousands of Britons flocked to the coast to enjoy a day of sun, sand and sea, however the RNLI only had lifeguards on 17 beaches, out of the 248 it usually covers, to protect them.
An air ambulance was called to Durdle Door in Dorset after four people injured themselves whilst jumping off the top of the beach’s ancient limestone arch, which reaches 200ft – an activity widely known as tombstoning. Last week two people died on Cornwall’s coastline and there are now calls for the emergency service to be reinstated immediately.
A 17-year-old girl lost her life after getting trapped under a rigid-hulled inflatable boat near Porthilly Rock in Wadebridge. In a separate incident, a man was pulled from the sea by a member of the public at Treyarnon Bay in Padstow.
Volunteers within the RNLI, which operates off charitable donations and council support, have supported the public cry for help. Adam Richards is a head teacher and volunteers for a local lifesaving club – last week he rescued a nine-year-old boy from the sea. He said the RNLI should forget “internal politics” because until lifeguard patrols restart “people are going to drown,” he told The Times.
Over 600 lifeguards have joined a campaign, #ReturnToShore, which would see them back on patrol and saving lives.
Some volunteers have returned to their posts for free but they lack the official lifesaving equipment required to carry out rescues properly. Its lifeboat crews are only in operation for emergencies, with the rest of its services suspended since lockdown began.
The news comes as the Chief Executive of the RNLI called on the government to restrict public access to the coast. Mark Dowie issued an open letter last week.
"With thousands flocking to English beaches now lockdown restrictions have been eased, we must choose between keeping the public or our lifeguards safe," Mr Dowie wrote.
"Safety advice and warnings will only go so far when people are desperate to enjoy some freedom after weeks of lockdown."As a lifesaving charity, the RNLI cannot stop people going to beaches – but the government can – before more lives are lost around our coast this summer."
Critics warn it is unrealistic to expect people not to go to the seaside, especially now the freedom to travel for exercise has been granted and the country continues to bask in glorious sunshine.