Two RNLI lifeguards have gone on patrol on a Scottish beach for the first time.
The specially trained lifeguards are stationed on Coldingham Sands, north of Eye- mouth in the Scottish Borders.
The lifeguards – Geo Ceccarelli, 32, and Jamie Lindsay, 17 – are based in a beach hut and are equipped with the latest water-rescue and casualty-care equipment, including spinal boards, defibrillators and rescue tubes – buoyancy devices that can sustain the weight of an individual.
Trained in rescue techniques and casualty care, the paid lifeguards will patrol the beach until 8 September, between the hours of 10am and 6pm.
Among the requirements for the job is that they can run 200 metres in 40 seconds and swim 200m in open water in three-and-a-half minutes.
The move is the first time in its 189-year history that the Royal National Lifeboat Institution has provided lifeguards in Scotland. The organisation said the pair will provide “beach-safety advice and first aid to members of the public, as well as assisting anyone who gets into difficulty in the water”.
A spokesman for the charity said the aim is to provide a joined-up rescue service.
He said: “We’re basically almost providing this seamless rescue service that goes from the beach up to 100 miles out to the sea. Coldingham was chosen because it has 20,000 visitors a year and it’s popular for surfers.”
Coldingham Sands is flanked by St Abbs lifeboat to the north and Eyemouth lifeboat to the south.
Mr Ceccarelli, who has already worked as a RNLI lifeguard in England, said that biggest challenge on Coldingham was the rock outcrops: “We have a really heavy swell here, and we’ve got rocks up the side of the beach. Because of this swell, we have a strong current.
“So we have to be quick in getting people out because it’s almost inevitable that they’ll be hit against the rocks.”
He said of the job’s attractions: “I love working out in the open and with the water; I enjoy working with the public and helping to protect them, but I’m also bit of a surfer so this place is great for me, too.”
Over the past 12 years, the RNLI has been spreading its lifeguard patrols across England, Wales and Ireland, but is now looking to roll out its service around Scottish beaches – starting initially with areas around Coldingham before looking further afield.
Until now, where lifeguards are present on Scottish beaches, they have been provided by the local council. The RNLI said the roll-out would depend on the location of the beach and whether it was well used.
Andy Clift, RNLI regional operations manager for Scotland and England North, said: “We are really pleased that we are able to extend our life-saving service and offer a lifeguard service on a Scottish beach. Today is a proud day for the RNLI in Scotland.”
In 2012, the charity’s lifeguards responded to 14,519 incidents and assisted 16,414 people.
Councillor Ron Smith, executive member for planning and environment, said that the contract would be initially for five years, and was part of a drive to improve services for the visitors to the area.
He added: “RNLI beachguards are fully equipped and regularly trained, and will also provide an on-shore and off-shore life- saving service.”