STUDENTS manning a Royal Navy patrol boat have been praised for helping to save a life of a 61-year-old man whose kayak overturned in the Solent at the weekend.
A University Royal Naval Unit student on board Portsmouth-based HMS Smiter spotted a black object in the water off Lee-on-the-Solent as the boat and RNLI responded to the man’s SOS.
The man had drifted about a mile away from his kayak and was in a critical condition when he was spotted.
‘As we got closer we realised it was the man. We tried to recover him by the pilot ladder but he was in and out of consciousness, so we set up the recovery stretcher used for unconscious casualties,’ said Lieutenant Stephanie Buttery, Smiter’s commanding officer.
‘Once he was on board we offered initial first aid in company with the local RNLI who were also on board by then.
‘This incident could have been critical for the kayaker given his age and the conditions on the day.’
The Coastguard helicopter quickly appeared and the casualty was winched to safety, before being flown to hospital in Southampton.
The whole rescue operation lasted just 30 minutes and involved the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter, the Hillhead Coastguard Rescue Team, and the Hamble and Calshot lifeboats.
‘The hand held radio this kayaker used to call mayday via channel 16, saved his life,’ said Matt West, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency’s UK Coastguard Controller.
‘He is suffering from hypothermia but he is now at Southampton General receiving the treatment he needs.
‘I would like to applaud him for having the correct safety equipment with him, and having the knowhow of how to use it and contact us.
‘This is exactly why we recommend ensuring you have the correct safety equipment. We all wish him a speedy recovery.’