Lifeguard, 18, saves teenager from drowning in first days on job

Jacob Tunks, RNLI lifeguard at Hemsby.

Jacob Tunks, 18 from Wymondham, sprang into action on only his first days as a lifeguard to save a teenage girl from drowning. - Credit: Jacob Tunks

A teenage lifeguard saved a girl from drowning on only his fourth day in the job.

Jacob Tunks, 18, was scanning the waves at Hemsby on Saturday (July 24) when he spotted a girl in trouble.

Out of her depth and unsettled by the sheer force of the swell and waves he said it "felt pretty urgent" as he went in to rescue her.

Having deployed a rescue tube, once she had grabbed hold of it he was able to pull her in using the rope attached.

Afterwards the A level drama, geography, and PE student, who lives with his family in Wymondham, said it felt "very rewarding" to be able to help someone out and do the job he trained for.

Hemsby beach in July.

The lifeguard station at Hemsby on July 26, 2021. Already on the first weekend of the summer holidays its RNLI staff have been hailed as lifesavers. - Credit: Liz Coates


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Jacob, a pool attendant at Center Parcs in Elveden, said being a beach lifeguard was "a dream job" he was finally able to pursue now he could drive.

He qualified in June following a five-day RNLI course and had his first shift on the beach on Wednesday (July 21).

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On Saturday the drama unfolded at around 12.35pm - giving him his first "save."

He said he was already on the shoreline and in a good position to launch himself to the swimmer's aid.

One of the girl's party who was also in the water realised she couldn't help and and "made the right decision" to leave the water ensuring there was one person to rescue rather than two, he added.

In the moment he said all his training about making a quick risk assessment and deciding what to do kicked in.

"It was her face that gave it away," he said.

"She looked really panicky. She was only about 10m from the shore but had stopped swimming. At that point I was getting in and it felt quite urgent.

"There were heavy waves and I am 6ft 2ins and it was lifting me up completely and I could not stand even close to the shore.

"She was in a state of shock but someone else from her party was waiting for her. It was a case of getting her sat down and a few deep breaths, after that she was fine.

"After that I had five minutes to myself and carried on with my day."

He said the advice to anyone in trouble in the water was to lie on their back like a starfish, giving rescuers more time to respond.

The RNLI's advises visiting a lifeguarded beach, swimming between the red and yellow flags, and leaving inflatables at home.

Play it Safe, Be Water Aware

The Eastern Daily Press has launched the Play It Safe campaign urging the public to be water aware.

The Play It Safe campaign is urging the public to be water aware. - Credit: Archant

Ahead of this year's bumper staycation summer this newspaper has launched a campaign that aims to ensure everyone visiting Norfolk's waters stays safe and remembers their day out for all the right reasons.

Called 'Play it safe, be water aware' the campaign has the backing of the RNLI and the Broads Authority.

Businesses can get involved by displaying free posters making people alert to the dangers.

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