A RNLI lifeboat crew were out on a first aid search training scenario in Aberystwyth on Tuesday evening (29 September) when they came across a person cut off by the tide.
The crew thought they had located the casualty being used for the training scenario, but in fact it was a man in need of rescue, who had been cut off by the unusually high tides – or ‘supertides’ – being experienced across the country this week.
The training exercise plan had been for the RNLI lifeboat crew to find and treat a mocked up cliff faller in need of medical assistance.
As part of the scenario, both the Atlantic class lifeboat and the Arancia inshore rescue boat had been sent to the Constitution Hill area to search for the possible cliff faller. This was actually a decoy to give the scenario team time to set up an exercise casualty in a completely different location, which would be given to the crews later. But just as the scenario team were about to inform the lifeboat crews that the fake faller was somewhere else entirely, they heard reports that a real casualty who had been cut off by the tide in a cove near to Constitution Hill had been located.
Aberystwyth RNLI Volunteer Helm Emily Foot, who was first onto the beach, said:
“We sometimes use people not familiar to the crew as casualties in big exercises, so the fact I didn’t recognise him was not unusual, but I soon realised he was not injured and not part of the exercise.”
The casualty informed the crew that he was an extreme fisherman and had planned to stay at the location and then climb out or sit up on the cliff. It was a still night and he had already been in the water up to his waist as he was moving back along the coast from cove to cove.
The man had made some safety provisions, but he hadn’t factored in the ‘supertide’ that was incoming.
The casualty exercise was cancelled as the boats were recovered and debriefed.
Helmsman Nick Thompson said: “If it wasn’t for my eagle eyed crew we may have been picking up a casualty in the middle of the night who was hypothermic and in a lot more difficulty.
“We would always recommend that people check the tide times before going onto the beach at low tide as it can quickly turn and cut you off.”