Belfast Telegraph

Council worker Pollock hailed after man rescued off Down coast

By Claire Williamson

A council worker has been praised for saving the life of a man who got into difficulties in the sea off Co Down.

Mark Pollock, an employee of Ards and North Down Borough Council, had been working in Banks car park in Ballyholme just after 8am yesterday when he heard faint shouts.

He initially thought it was someone calling for their dog, but continued to look out to sea and spotted someone in the water, around 200 metres from the shore.

The Coastguard said without Mr Pollock's quick thinking in calling for help there would have been a very different outcome.

The Bangor RNLI's volunteer crew responded within minutes.

Helmsman James Gillespie said: "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."

Crew member Johnny Gedge entered the water to support the man, who was only just conscious, until he could be lifted on board, where fellow crew members Joanne Heasley and Jack Irwin cared for him.

Mr Gillespie added: "Our extensive training in casualty care is invaluable at a time like 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, prevented further cooling and returned 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 sock. It is unknown why he was in the water.

Mr Pollock said: "I am just delighted that I heard his calls and hope he makes a full recovery."

After the patient was taken to hospital Bangor lifeboat operations manager Kevin Byers said that just five more minutes in the water would have been fatal.

He added: "The crew took exactly the right actions to give this young man the best chance of a full recovery."

North Down UUP MLA Alan Chambers praised the efforts.

"The actions of Mark Pollock undoubtedly helped to save the life of the man," he said.

"Mark, once he realised that it was a person in distress calling for help, did the correct thing in immediately alerting the Coastguard, who tasked the launch of the volunteer RNLI inshore rescue craft from its base at Bangor Marina.

"The prompt response of the volunteer crew, and the selfless action of a crew member entering the water to help retrieve the man onto the rescue vessel, ensured the man's swift transfer into the care of the paramedics."

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