#RNLI - At 8.10am this morning (Wednesday 28 December), Bangor RNLI’s volunteer crew responded to a request from HM Coastguard to rescue a young man reported to be in difficulty while swimming 200 metres off the shore in Ballyholme Bay.
The alarm was raised by Ards and North Down council employee Mark Pollock as he was working in Banks Car Park. Hearing faint shouts, he initially thought it was someone calling for their dog, but persevered looking in the sea until he became aware that there was someone in the water.
Bangor RNLI’s volunteer crew responded within minutes and made their way to Ballyholme Bay.
Helmsman James Gillespie said later: “On arrival, the early morning light made it difficult to see, but fortunately the water was flat calm, and on scanning the area I saw a slight movement as the casualty raised his hand.”
Heading quickly to the scene, crew member Johnny Gedge entered the water to support the casualty, who was only just conscious, until he could be lifted on board the lifeboat, where crew members Joanne Heasley and Jack Irwin put their casualty care training to good use.
Gillespie added: “Our extensive training in casualty care is invaluable at a time like this. Because of this, we know the importance of not trying to warm the patient too quickly as this can cause cardiac arrest.
“Instead, we made the patient safe, and prevented further cooling, and returned as quickly and safely as we could to the lifeboat station where an ambulance and paramedics were waiting to take over.”
The patient, who is thought to be in his late 20s, was wearing only tracksuit bottoms, a T-shirt and socks, and it is unknown why he was in the water.
A shocked Pollock said: “I am just delighted that I heard his calls, and hope he makes a full recovery.”
Speaking after the ambulance left to take the patient to hospital, Bangor’s lifeboat operations manager Kevin Byers said: “I understand from talking to medical personnel at the scene, that only five minutes more in the water would have been fatal, and that the crew took exactly the right actions to give this young man the best chance of a full recovery.
“I am always proud of my team, but their response this morning was magnificent. Not just the four crew members on the boat, but the many others who responded to their pagers and were prepared to do whatever they could to help.”