It is not on every holiday that you find yourself involved in the rescue of a drowning man.
Our son, who lives in Chandler’s Ford, was enjoying a holiday at Bonchurch on the Isle of Wight. Relaxing after day visiting nearby children’s attractions with his four-year-old daughter, he heard cries for help. From his flat overlooking the sea he could see a man in deep water out beyond the breakwater waving, calling for help and in distress. Already another man was swimming towards him with the life buoy which was provided nearby.
The rescuer himself had been swimming for about an hour and was already fatigued and cold. His strength and endurance was beginning to fail. Our son scrambled along the rocks that form the break-water to the end and into the sea. He was able to grasp the drowning man and carry him over the rocks to the shore. The man was only partly conscious and could not answer questions properly. He was carried to the road where first aid was applied.
Ambulance or Coastguard?
The owner of the local pottery shop had already called the coastguard but when she saw that the man had been pulled ashore she called for an ambulance instead. After 20 minutes the ambulance arrived and took the still part-unconscious man to hospital in Newport. Standing nearby were the man’s wife and small daughter. They did not seem to be fully aware of the seriousness of the situation.
The man, aged 29, was a holidaymaker and a non-swimmer. He had gone out surfing on a polystyrene body board which he used as the flotation device when he was out of his depth. During his adventures in the surf the strap connecting the body board to his ankle broke and the body board drifted away in the current and wind.
Left without his buoyancy aid, the man began to flail around and by the time help has arriving his head was dropping beneath the surface. His breathing was impaired and he was losing consciousness. By the time he was brought to shore, he was shocked and unable to do anything for himself but was still breathing.
There was a satisfactory outcome but it was a close thing. It was just the sort of story that the local press or the Daily Mail would have loved to fill a few of their column inches.
Can you Swim?
The UK is supposed to have a scheme whereby all school children should be able to swim 25 M by the age of 11 years. I wonder how successful this is.