Doctor praises efforts of teenage lifeguards who were first to respond to Bournemouth beach tragedy

1 June 2023, 13:10 | Updated: 2 June 2023, 06:50

A doctor praised the 'teenage' lifeguards
A doctor praised the 'teenage' lifeguards. Picture: Alamy/Twitter/@buhalis

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By Emma Soteriou

A doctor who witnessed the frantic search for two children on Bournemouth beach has praised the "teenage" lifeguards who responded to the incident.

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A 12-year-old girl and 17-year-old boy died on Wednesday after emergency services attended a "major incident" at the beach.

Dr Rob Rosa, who witnessed it, said the lifeguards were "exceptional" and "didn't panic".

He said "they followed instruction to the letter whilst taking their own initiative".

Dorset Police Assistant Chief Constable Rachel Farrell told a police conference on Thursday that there was "no suggestion" of people jumping from Bournemouth pier or of jet skis being involved in the incident.

They also confirmed that the two children that died were not related - one was from Southampton and the other from Buckinghamshire.

A man in his 40s, who was on the water at the time, has been arrested on suspicion of manslaughter, Dorset Police said.

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Photos posted by onlookers on social media showed helicopters landing on the beach and a number of emergency service vehicles.
Photos posted by onlookers on social media showed helicopters landing on the beach and a number of emergency service vehicles. Picture: Twitter/@buhalis

Dr Rob Rosa said in a LinkedIn post: "I happened to be on Bournemouth beach yesterday and was involved in the resuscitation attempt on the 12 year old girl who tragically died.

"Many of the lifeguards on the beach were teenagers themselves and despite their training would not have encountered such a scene, let alone having to resuscitate two children simultaneously whilst actively searching for others in a crowded sea.

"These young lifeguards did everything asked of them, they didn’t panic, there was no hysteria, they were exceptional and they followed instruction to the letter whilst taking their own initiative.

"I hope they are able to spend time reflecting on how well they performed as individuals and as a team in exceptional circumstances that we all hope won’t be repeated.

"It seems 10 people got into difficulty in the water and it must have felt overwhelming for them before emergency help arrived on the scene.

"They absolutely did their bit and they should be rightly proud of how they coped under such pressure even though the outcome was so sad.

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"I know #rnli have support services in place for them and they will be able to process the event, but I shall be donating to them today.

"They did not turn up for work expecting that yesterday and behind the scenes praise should be offered to each and every one of them for working so hard to keep us safe on the beach."

The boy, 17, and the girl, 12, were rushed to hospital following the incident.
The boy, 17, and the girl, 12, were rushed to hospital following the incident. Picture: Twitter/@buhalis

The doctor also criticised those who filmed the children receiving CPR on the beach.

"Those videoing the desperate CPR attempts should think long and hard at their actions, the tragic death of a child is not something anyone should voyeuristically observe," he told MailOnline.

Dorset Police are working alongside the Marine Accident Investigation Branch and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency to establish what happened.

Police said at around 4.30pm they received a report from paramedics of people needing assistance on the beach off Bournemouth Pier.

Ten people were recovered from the water, though a boy, 17, and a girl, 12, had sustained critical injuries.They were airlifted to hospital but later died, the force said.

Their families have been informed.

The other eight people were treated non-life-threatening injuries at the scene.

A bunch of flowers left on Bournemouth beach for a 17-year-old-boy and a girl aged 12 who sustained "critical injuries" on Wednesday
A bunch of flowers left on Bournemouth beach for a 17-year-old-boy and a girl aged 12 who sustained "critical injuries" on Wednesday. Picture: Alamy

St John Ambulance advice suggests: "In a cardiac arrest emergency, or when you notice someone isn't breathing normally or unresponsive, St John Ambulance advice suggests calling 999 for help and starting chest compressions immediately.

"If a defibrillator is available - and someone is with you - ask them to fetch it whilst you continue lifesaving chest compressions. You can do this by putting the heel of your hand in the middle of their chest and pressing down firmly at the rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.

"If you have a defibrillator, use it as soon as you can and follow the instructions whilst you continue chest compressions."

A spokesperson for South Western Ambulance NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) said it sent multiple teams to the scene, including six double-crewed ambulances, two air ambulances, a hazardous area response team, and a critical care car.

The service said it searched the water to make sure no one else was missing and was "satisfied there are not".

Detective Chief Superintendent Neil Corrigan, of Dorset Police, said: "Our thoughts are with the loved ones of the young people who tragically died and we are doing all we can to support their families.

"I understand the beach was very busy at the time of the incident and I would ask anyone with information that may assist our enquiries to please come forward.

"We are at the early stages of our investigation and would ask people not to speculate about the circumstances surrounding the incident."

Anyone with any information is being asked to contact Dorset Police via its website or by calling 101, quoting occurrence number 55230083818. Crimestoppers can also be contacted anonymously via its website or on freephone 0800 555 111.

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