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Essex: Girl’s rescue sparks sea safety warning

09:49 28 July 2014

The RNLI is urging people to take care at the beach this summer. Picture: James Bass

The RNLI is urging people to take care at the beach this summer. Picture: James Bass

Archant Norfolk © 2014

Coastal rescuers have issued a stern warning to beach-goers this summer after a young girl almost drowned during a hectic weekend of emergency call-outs.

The seven-year-old casualty was dragged from the sea off the coast of Walton on the Naze, drifting in and out of consciousness and coughing up water at around 3pm on Saturday.

Paramedics from the East of England Ambulance Service and the Essex Air Ambulance were called to the scene by Coastguard officers and joined by two of Tendring District Council’s (TDC) beach patrol team.

Team member James Franklin and his colleague Luke Hood went to the scene on their quad bike and found the girl was being attended to by paramedics.

“The Essex Air Ambulance had been called out and paramedics were looking after the youngster who had taken in sea water and was vomiting,” said Mr Franklin.

“We helped with the crowd control and other duties before the girl was taken to hospital by ambulance.

“Our understanding is that one of the family, who spotted the girl in difficulty, got her out of the water very quickly.”

The girl was taken to Colchester General Hospital by land ambulance in a condition that was not thought to be life threatening.

The callout was one of 23 made to Thames Coastguard over the first weekend of the school summer holidays – 17 of which were made on Saturday alone.

Rescue organisations along the Essex coast have urged people visiting the seaside to pay heed of warnings and show the water the respect it deserves.

Stewart Oxley, Walton and Frinton Lifeboat press officer, said it had been a busy summer so far and he feared many visitors were not taking the necessary precautions.

“People on the beaches need to look where they are, check the sea conditions, check the flags and understand the lay of the land,” he said.

“Around here the beach can be really quite steep – you can be up to your knees and then take four steps and it’s over your chest.

“It doesn’t take long for young children to be out of their depth and floundering around.

“The sea is an unforgiving body – it’s never going to tire, it’s never going to give up and you are never going to beat it.”

Thames Coastguard said that a high proportion of its calls over the weekend, including several in Essex had been responding to nuisance jet-skis and speedboats.

A Thames Coastguard spokesman added: “Unlike having a car, where you have to pass a driving test before you get on the road, you don’t need that with jet skis and speed boats. It’s an education thing.”

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