‘I attended my first major incident in my first shift as an RNLI Lifeguard.’
Becoming a lifeguard
In 2014 I thought that being a lifeguard sounded like a good weekend and summer job. I had enjoyed swimming from a young age and wanted to be able to take advantage of that as well as earning some extra money. So I started my training.
To become a qualified lifeguard I took a five-day course in April with my local surf life saving club, Broadstairs Surf Life Saving Club. Then to receive my Surf Life Saving Great Britain (SLSGB) qualification I had to complete four days of training as well as perform a number of rescues in front of an assessor.
I applied to become an RNLI Lifeguard in March that year and received a job offer in May. Once I’d signed a contract, I then spent five days with the RNLI supervisors and other lifeguards to complete inductions and casualty care training.
It was in my first shift as a fully qualified RNLI Lifeguard that I attended my first major incident …
My first shift
On a busy Summer’s day at Joss Bay in Broadstairs, Kent a young member of the public came to the lifeguard unit saying their friend had injured their ankle whilst skimboarding in the shallow water.
Senior Lifeguard, Lucy-Jane MacGowan was first to the boy whilst I tackled the major first aid kit. When I arrived at the scene Lucy-Jane had already begun assessing the young boy, who had managed to hobble up the beach to his friends and sit down in a chair before we were asked to help.
I had lots of adrenaline pumping around my body and the whole experience felt like it went so quickly. I was only 16 at the time so I felt very young and inexperienced but I was lucky to be working with two great lifeguards and to have such good training behind me.
I remember doing the vital checks on the casualty and radioing for Lifeguard Mikyle Carrick, who was on the shoreline, to drop the flags and phone an ambulance for the casualty as the boy had a high breathing rate and possibly a broken ankle.
We supported the injury using sand and kept the boy calm until the ambulance arrived. The paramedics then took him to the ambulance on a dinghy after they decided against using a spinal board to transport the casualty to the ambulance.
Being a lifeguard
When I started being a lifeguard I was about to take my GCSEs and now, after finishing the International Baccalaureate, I am at university studying Journalism and hope to continue lifeguarding until I graduate.
I’ve made so many friends through being a lifeguard. The range of people I’ve worked with over the years has been really thought provoking, from 16-year-olds about to take their exams, to university graduates earning money to travel, to 60-year-olds running their own businesses and lifeguarding in their spare time, all working towards the same goal. To save lives at sea.
Making a difference
Since starting back in 2014, I’ve been helped administer first aid on a number of occasions and assisted members of the public who have needed help when out at sea. I’ve really enjoyed every season that I’ve been with the RNLI and I look forward to getting back out on the beach this summer.
Thank you for reading my story.
If you know someone who would be interested in being an RNLI Lifeguard, then the next step to take is to share our recruitment website with them which can be found here.