Review over lifeguard work pattern

Published: Sunday 26th October 2014 by The News Editor

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Sea rescue services said that a review will look into whether lifeguards should work during the autumn half term at a beach where three people died in a surfing tragedy.

The Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) said that lifeguards man Mawgan Porth Beach in Newquay, Cornwall, from March to September and confirmed there would have been none patrolling there today.

But it explained that there would have been “clear signs” indicating the lack of lifeguard cover for beachgoers.

A spokeswoman for the RNLI said: ” We position lifeguards at certain beaches during the summer months and at other times that we think will be busy during the year.

“A risk assessment is carried out and agreed with the local council and authorities, whoever is responsible for the beach.

“That risk assessment is decided by taking into account the number of users, the type of users, the topography of the area – how the waves fall there – and the proximity of other rescue services.

“Every season an assessment is carried out to see what lifeguards there should be on every beach.

“I am sure we will take into account visitor numbers at Mawgan Porth during half term and once we know what happened today it will form part of the review into whether we need to extend lifeguard cover there .

“I don’t know if Mawgan Porth received high visitor numbers today, but there would have been clear signs that this was not a lifeguarded beach.”

The spokeswoman said that RNLI lifeboats “on call 24/7” can launch within 10 minutes all year round.

And she added that protection for swimmers and surfers during the off-season is the same as after a summer 6pm cut off point.

“There are the same rescue assets available then as there would have been today,” she said.

Local councillor John Fitter said that his “personal sympathy” went to the families involved.

“The autumn half term is always busy because it’s the last opportunity for people to enjoy Cornwall before winter sets in,” he said.

“Having said that, we have never had an incident like today’s tragedy at this time of the year.

“One’s heart goes out to the families of those who have lost their loved ones. We share their grief.”

Asked whether lifeguard cover should be extended to the autumn half term, Mr Fitter said there could be “no criticism of the RNLI at all”.

He said: “We have never had lifeguards here after the summer season and it is something that in the light of this tragedy we may wish to review. Everything has to be looked at it.

“But anybody going into the water Mawgan Porth Beach today would have been aware that there were no lifeguards there.”

Published: Sunday 26th October 2014 by The News Editor

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