Most people think of a day out at the beach with friends and family as a lovely escape from city life or the cares of their jobs. The sea looks innocent and sparkling in the sun but it has many other faces. Tranquil waters can turn in an instant and changing tides can often catch people out.
The RNLI lifeguards are there to minimise the stress as they provide a constant watch on the water and the shoreline. They provide advice and help as Sooril, one of the lifeguards, explained: ‘The preventative work that we do is the most important thing for me. It keeps people safe and there are fewer incidents because of it.”
This summer there were many more days of sunshine than usual and the crowds flocked to Camber in their thousands. New recruits were therefore given much more opportunity to use the skills that they had learnt in their training. The RNLI training is comprehensive: it qualifies the lifeguards in lifesaving, casualty care and ensures a high level of fitness. The recruits need to be able to swim 200 metres in under three and a half minutes and run 200 metres on sand in under 40 seconds.
As Rye Harbour RNLI Press Officer, I spent the morning at Camber with the RNLI team of lifeguards and was struck by their dedication to their job and their professionalism. Alex, one of those on duty that day, was asked what qualifications make a good lifeguard. He replied, ‘Holding to RNLI values and being active and fit are expected but what is really important is to be approachable and outgoing.’
This was backed up by Hugh, his colleague, who started as a lifeguard at 16 and worked for the local council. He was shy but the training he received and the life skills he has learnt along the way have made him the confident and gregarious young man he is today.
Alongside the RNLI team of lifeguards there are the Beach Patrols, organised by Rother Council, and their Coastal Officers who co-ordinate the team. The Beach Patrols are quick to spot a child who seems lost and has become separated from his or her family, and at weekends they are supported by paramedics and the Police. Together they all make Camber a safer place to be.
The RNLI advises beachgoers to Respect the Water, know the times of the tides and to keep children within sight. Visitors arriving at Camber can approach the Lifeguards or the Beach Patrols and request a wristband on which will be written a contact telephone number making reuniting families and children much easier and quicker. This summer at the weekends there were typically over 40 children who had become separated from their families.
Image Credits: kt Bruce .