Council worker praised for role in saving man off Down coast

Mark Pollock working in Bangor at about 8am when he heard faint shouts out at sea

The RNLI said it is not clear how a man rescued off the Co Down coast had ended up in the water. File photograph: RNLI/Nigel Millard/PA Wire

The RNLI said it is not clear how a man rescued off the Co Down coast had ended up in the water. File photograph: RNLI/Nigel Millard/PA Wire

 

A quick-thinking council worker has been praised after a young man was rescued from freezing seas off Northern Ireland.

Mark Pollock was working in the Banks car park at Ballyholme, near Bangor, Co Down, at about 8am when he heard faint shouts. He looked out to sea until he spotted a man offshore.

It is feared the man would have been dead in five minutes if the alarm had not been raised.

Barely conscious

The local volunteer RNLI crew launched its inshore craft from the base at Bangor Marina and rescued the man, barely conscious, about 200m from shore.

The man is believed to have been in his 20s. He had been lightly dressed in tracksuit bottoms, a T-shirt and socks.

The RNLI said it is not clear how he ended up in the water.

Helmsman James Gillespie said: “On arrival, the early morning light made it difficult to see, but fortunately the water was flat, calm, and on scanning the area I saw a slight movement as the casualty raised his hand.”

One of the RNLI crew, Johnny Gedge, got into the water to support the man until he could be lifted on board.

The rescued man was made safe and prevented from becoming any colder on the boat before being brought to the lifeboat station at the marina, where paramedics took care of him.

Mr Pollock said: “I am just delighted that I heard his calls, and hope he makes a full recovery.”

Bangor lifeboat’s operations manager Kevin Byers said: “I am always proud of my team, but their response this morning was magnificent.

“Not just the four crew members on the boat, but the many others who responded to their pagers and were prepared to do whatever they could to help.”

‘Did the correct thing’

Alan Chambers, Ulster Unionist MLA for North Down, said: “Mark, once he realised that it was a person in distress calling for help, did the correct thing in immediately alerting the coastguards.

“Given the extremely low early morning air and water temperature, any delay could have turned the operation into a recovery situation rather than a rescue.

“We are very privileged and grateful to have an RNLI rescue craft based in Bangor and once again it has proved its worth in saving a life.

“Both Mark and the crew are to be commended for their actions in dealing with a situation that could easily have ended in a tragedy rather than a rescue.”

Press Association