A SEA swimmer was plucked to safety in a dramatic rescue in ‘treacherous’ conditions in St Ouen’s Bay.
The Islander – and two specially trained Jersey Fire and Rescue Service staff – were repeatedly thrown against the sea wall by breaking waves during the incident, which happened in darkness at high tide on Sunday.
The swimmer and one of the firefighters were treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to hospital.
The rescue mission was launched when the solo swimmer, who was not wearing a wetsuit and had no floatation aids, was seen in a distressed state and unable to get back to shore.
The swimmer was advised to stay beyond the breaking waves to avoid injury while Jersey Coastguard called out the RNLI’s and Jersey Fire and Rescue Service’s inshore boats.
The sea conditions were too rough for the JFRS inshore rescue boat to launch, so rescue swimmers were sent out, with the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat and inshore rib near on standby.
The swimmer was finally picked up about 25 metres from the shore, after initially being spotted in line with the White House and then drifting north towards Sands.
Jersey Coastguard watch officer, Ford Ramsden, said: ‘This was a difficult rescue, in the dark, at high tide, with rough sea conditions and waves breaking against the sea wall.
‘We would advise Islanders never to go swimming late in the evening, as this endangers not only the swimmers themselves, but also the emergency services who are called out to rescue them. The outcome last night was positive, but it could easily have gone the other way.’
Ryan Hall, Jersey Fire and Rescue Service Station Commander, added: ‘Due to the significant swell and high tidal state, conditions were untenable for us to launch our inshore rescue boat, therefore trained rescue swimmers were deployed to enter the water by steps some 100 metres away from the casualty.
‘The rescue swimmer then had to transverse along the shoreline wall while being hit by the waves making access treacherous.
‘Once contact was made with the casualty, a second rescuer was deployed to assist efforts. Worsening sea conditions made the rescue more challenging, as they were continuously being picked up by waves and thrown up against the sea wall.
‘Despite very dangerous circumstances, once on the scene our rescuers demonstrated their bravery, dedication and unwavering commitment to protecting and serving our community, and I commend them.
‘We would also like to thank the members of public who gave their assistance under the supervision of firefighters to manage rescue ropes.’