Volunteer rescuer describes moment crew saved two families in Forth

Volunteers came to the aid of two families on Sunday after their dinghy capsized.

RNLI Kinghorn volunteer rescuers Neil Chalmers, Kerr Milne and Robert Rutherford.

A crew of six Kinghorn RNLI Lifeboat volunteers, including four on a boat, a tractor driver to launch the lifeboat and one shore crew member, were involved in the rescue operation, in which eight people including five children were saved from the Firth of Forth after their dinghy tipped over.

Neil Chalmers, Robert Rutherford, Kerr Milne, Matthew Mulligan, Graham Milne, and Rob Douglas took part in the rescue operation away from their day jobs as an environmental scientist, lorry driver, funeral director, RNLI support officer, engineer, and delivery driver.

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Mr Chalmers, who works as an environmental scientist, said: “It was a good call-out for us with a great result so we were all relieved it turned out well and the casualties themselves were well prepared which makes a huge difference.”

Describing the events unfolding, Mr Chalmers said: “We are all volunteers so we were all in our houses but the page just went at around half past three yesterday afternoon and we made our way to the station and launched fairly soon after.

“The tasking at the time was a sailing dinghy with a number of three paddleboards in difficulty or apparent difficulty off Port Seton so we went out there and when we were several miles out it was confirmed that the dinghy had actually capsized so we continued making best speed.

"We found the dinghy with the two adults and five children in the water off Port Seton.

“We got them into the lifeboat and then there was an eighth casualty who was on his paddleboard- we picked him up as well because he was struggling against the wind.”

The casualties were taken to Port Seton where two ambulances arrived to check everyone out along with coastguard rescue teams from North Berwick and Fisherrow.

Describing the casualties’ conditions, Mr Chalmers added: “They were all fine.

"They were left a little cold and some of the younger children were a bit scared but they were all fine and all made their own way home so no other treatment was required.”

"They were all well equipped and we got them into the lifeboat one by one but they were glad to see us.”

Asked whether this was an unusual call-out for the team, Mr Chalmers said: “No it’s very common actually.

"We’ve had a number of call-outs this past year with paddleboards being involved.

"This past year with people staying locally has increase the sales of paddleboards so there’s been a lot more people out and about.”

As one of the busiest RNLI stations in Scotland, the 30 Kinghorn lifeboat volunteers work closely together on a regular basis.

"Last year, we did nearly a hundred incidents so we are quite used to this in terms of all the training we do.” said Mr Chalmers, "Everyone lives in Kinghorn and people come from all different backgrounds and occupations so everyone brings something different to the team.”

"In the wider crew, we have teachers and lawyers, engineers, police officers.

“We also have around eight to ten female crew members.”

The RNLI is a charity which relies entirely on donations and Mr Chalmers commented that they always welcome people donating whenever they can via the RNLI website.

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