Man rescued after 'faint shouts' heard at Northern Ireland beauty spot - five more minutes in water 'would have been fatal'
A man has been rescued after he got into difficulty off the Northern Ireland coast at Ballyholme Bay, Co Down, thanks to a passerby who heard his shouts for help.
Just after 8am on Wednesday morning Bangor RNLI's volunteer crew responded to the report of a man in difficulty 200 metres off the shore in Bangor.
The alarm was raised by Mark Pollock who is an employee of Ards and North Down council and was working in Banks Car Park.
He heard faint shouts and initially thought it was someone calling for their dog.
He continued to look in the sea until he saw that there was someone in the water.
The Coastguard said without Mr Pollock's quick thinking in calling for help there would have been a very different outcome.
Bangor RNLI’s volunteer crew responded within minutes and made their way to Ballyholme Bay.
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 casualty, who was only just conscious, until he could be lifted on board, where crew members Joanne Heasley and Jack Irwin cared for the casualty.
Mr Gillespie continued: “Our extensive training in casualty care is invaluable at a time like this. Because of 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, and prevented further cooling, and returned as quickly and safely as we could 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 socks, and 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's Lifeboat Operations Manager Kevin Byers said that just five more minutes in the water would have been fatal.
He said: “I understand from talking to medical personnel at the scene, that only five minutes more in the water would have been fatal, and that the crew took exactly the right actions to give this young man the best chance of a full recovery.
“I am always proud of my team, but their response this morning was magnificent. Not just the four crew members on the boat, but the many others who responded to their pagers and were prepared to do whatever they could to help.”