Concern over Baywatch style floats

CONCERN has been voiced today over new Baywatch-style modern rescue equipment on Felixstowe seafront - but coastguards say it will be much better than the old lifebelts.

By Richard Cornwell

CONCERN has been voiced today over new Baywatch-style modern rescue equipment on Felixstowe seafront - but coastguards say it will be much better than the old lifebelts.

Seafront residents noticed many of the big red lifebelt holders no longer have traditional rings in them, but instead contain a small yellow package in the corner, a rescue throwbag.

Instead of flinging a drowning person in the sea a huge ring, the idea is the bag containing a special float is thrown out with the rescuer keeping hold of its line, so the person can grab the float and be pulled in.

But there has been doubts raised over how effective the equipment will be.

Pat Loveday, of Arwela Road, who has been keeping an eye on the lifebelts for years, making sure none were missing, said: “I am not at all sure about this equipment.

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“If people open the box and expect to find a lifebelt they won't and then they will panic - they might not notice this small package tucked away in the corner.

“If they have never used one before, they have then got to read the instructions, which all takes time.

“I was five when I saw my three-year-old brother Kenneth drown and I know how important it can be to get help immediately. I can see this new float and line getting caught on the rocks.”

Felixstowe sector coastguard Jo Arlow said the old lifebelts, which were often removed by vandals or went missing, were gradually being replaced with the new throwbags.

The lifebelts had been excellent for throwing down to someone in the water - such as from the pier - but not particularly good for throwing from a beach.

Mr Arlow said: “People often found they could only throw the rings four or five yards - you might as well walk out to the person in trouble.

“The new rescue throwbags can be thrown 25 to 30 metres on average and are very easy to use, and ideal for using on a beach.

“Over the past couple of years we have shown them to beach hut owners and other people using the seafront and trained people in how to use them. They are very simple and go like a torpedo.

“This is progress and I think people will get used to seeing them and knowing where to look for them when they need them.”

What do you think of the new equipment? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

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