On Thursday 26 January Port of Dover Police were called to attend the seafront promenade to assist Kent Police with a male who was been spoken to by the police.

The male then decided to jump from the promenade onto the beach and walk towards the sea and then entered the water. Police Officer and qualified beach lifeguard, Lorraine Mackie, was then called to assist. When Lorraine arrived there were six other officers in attendance who had searchlights fixed on the male as it was just after 6:30 am and still dark, and Kent Police’s policy is to not enter the water.

The male was approximately 20-25 metres from the shore, lying on his back, intermittently kicking his legs, and flowing with the tide from east to west. The officers were shouting to the male to return to shore but he was not listening.

The Port of Dover Harbour Launch was in attendance and the crew used a grab pole with a loop and tried to encourage the male to grab hold of it, however, he was not engaging. The tide was still going out, it was dark and cold.

The male continued to kick and float in the water, Lorraine was confident he was conscious and hoped that he would grab hold of the pole as getting in the water was her last resort. The launch crew was still doing their best to try and catch the male in the loop but was not succeeding.

Lorraine continued to watch the male, then holding a life ring and rope she decided to begin taking off her outer clothing of her police uniform to prepare to enter the water to rescue. Just before 7 am, Lorraine decided that the male was not going to return to the shore as he was not engaging or helping himself, so entered the water to perform a rescue.

Lorraine held the ring and instructed her colleagues to feed the rope and get ready to pull them both back to shore. She swam towards the male, approaching him in a calm manner, introducing herself, and asking for his name. The male didn’t engage with Lorraine and just kept kicking in a non-purposeful way. Lorraine offered the male the life ring and explained she would help him to get out of the water. Unfortunately, the male still was not engaging with Lorraine and refusing to cooperate with the rescue.

As the male had been in the water for over 30 minutes, his many layers of clothing were now sodden, becoming heavy and weighing him down. For this reason, Lorraine made the decision to grab hold of the collar on his jacket with one hand and looped her other arm through the ring, and shouted to the shore to be pulled in.

When Lorraine and the male began to move, he took off his headphones and turned towards Lorraine, attempting to grab her arm to free himself. Lorraine immediately let go of the male to ensure that the situation didn’t become more dangerous. She then spoke to the male, trying to calm him down and let her help him to return to shore. Once again, she held on to his clothing and instructed her colleagues to pull them into shore.

A few moments later, both Lorraine and the male returned to shore. The male was then taken back to the promenade and placed in a warm vehicle before being transferred to a hospital to be checked over. Lorraine went back to the police station to dry off. Thanks to Lorraine, the situation was dealt with in a timely and calm manner, and she was able to ensure everyone was safe and well.

The Royal Life Saving Society UK awarded Lorraine with a Certificate of Commendation for her rescue efforts.

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