Kent’s only PCSO lifeguard was called into action on his first day on the beat... when he rescued a swimmer who had been swept out to sea.
Alex Walker is the first person in the south east to combine the role of police community support officer and RNLI lifeguard, to tackle crime on the beach and save lives at sea.
He put his new skills to the test on his first day patrolling Thanet’s beaches, when he spotted a swimmer struggling in the water at Viking Bay in Broadstairs.
Alex was giving safety advice to a group of tombstoners jumping off the harbour wall when he saw a man caught in a current about 90m out to sea.
Alex called for back-up on the radio from nearby lifeguards and then swam out with a rescue tube to the swimmer in distress and lifeguard supervisor Nick Ayers paddled out on a rescue board.
Alex said: “He was exhausted when I got there. He said he had been hit by a large wave and swallowed water, which meant he couldn’t get his breath back enough to swim in.
"The current was very strong. I calmed him down and then we got him on the rescue board before Nick paddled him back to the slipway by the harbour wall.
“I’ve been keen to put my new lifeguarding skills into action but I didn’t expect it to happen on my first day patrolling the beach. The training kicked in immediately and it is enormously rewarding knowing I have rescued someone.”
“I’ve been keen to put my new lifeguarding skills into action but I didn’t expect it to happen on my first day patrolling the beach" - Alex Walker
Lifeguard Sam Butcher was waiting at the shoreline with medical equipment in case the swimmer needed medical care.
The man had no injuries but had swallowed some water and was advised to see a doctor.
RNLI lifeguard manager Rory Smith said: “Alex’s primary role is to patrol the beach as a PCSO but this rescue highlights his ability to support the lifeguard teams already on the beaches.”
Thanet District Council, Kent Police and the RNLI have all joined forces to create the role of PCSO lifeguard.