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Trained RNLI lifeguards patrol beaches

PUBLISHED: 17:52 31 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:21 03 July 2010

A BEACH lifeguard service expands to beaches in the Great Yarmouth area this summer.

The service started in the county last year when North Norfolk District Council linked up with the RNLI in a ground-breaking scheme.

A BEACH lifeguard service expands to beaches in the Great Yarmouth area this summer.

The service started in the county last year when North Norfolk District Council linked up with the RNLI in a ground-breaking scheme. Lifeguards had previously come under the control of the local council, but the partnership project meant there was better access to training, additional investment and an upgraded first aid qualification.

The involvement of the RNLI brought new skills, better equipment and a more joined-up way of working with other agencies, including the same organisation's lifeboats, to the vital beach-based role.

Covering Cromer, Sheringham, Mundesley and Sea Palling beaches, last year the RNLI lifeguards helped 378 people with anything from minor cuts, elderly people with chest pains, to people struggling to get back to shore.

The project is expanding to Gorleston and Yarmouth beaches on May 17, and at Hemsby beach in July, after an agreement was reached with Yarmouth Borough Council.

The RNLI's lifeguard divisional manager for East Anglia, Darren Lewis, said Yarmouth council officials were “extremely keen” to get involved.

He said the north Norfolk experience in 2007 had been affected by the poor weather.

“We did not have the number of incidents I would have expected, for the simple reason the weather was by far the worst I have seen in the 10 years I have been working on the beach.

“There were probably only 14 days of good beach weather in the whole of the period between May and September, which had an obvious impact.

“Having said that, there were still several busy days and although we didn't have the volume across the year, we had the types of incident I would expect, from stubbed toes to a broken arm, to people getting out of their depth in the sea and being caught out by tides and currents.”

The RNLI operates more than 70 lifeguard units throughout England, the vast majority in the south west.

t Anyone interested in working as a lifeguard can log on to www.rnli.org.uk and visit the jobs section.

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