AN OFF-DUTY lifeguard came to the rescue of an elderly man who had fallen on the pavement and was bleeding heavily.
RNLI lifeguard Rachel McDonald, 21, spotted the man on the ground near Brown’s Bay in Cullercoats, as she on her way to Tynemouth.
He was lying on his side, crying out in pain, with blood pouring from the back of his head.
Rachel, of Whitley Bay, assessed the man’s injury and showing a passer-by how to hold his head to give him spinal support and keep him still while someone else called an ambulance.
She asked someone else to knock on doors to try to find towels and blankets which she could use to compress the man’s bleeding and keep him warm.
Rachel then did what she could to stem the bleeding and carried on tending to the man until the Blyth Mobile Coastguard team arrived with first aid equipment, followed by an ambulance crew who put the man on a spinal board and took him to hospital.
RNLI divisional lifeguard manager Chris Ward praised Rachel for her actions.
He said: “Rachel did everything right, and should be congratulated for doing what she did to help this man.
“The doctor who treated him told us later that without her intervention, particularly to stem the bleeding, the man’s condition would have been critical.”
Rachel, a teacher, said it was an instinctive reaction to go to the man’s aid but it felt strange to be in an emergency situation without her RNLI colleagues or first aid equipment with her.
She added: “It was only afterwards that I realised I’d been ordering members of the public about, but I think I dealt with it as if I was leading a team of new lifeguards.
“Fortunately, everyone co-operated, and we were able to give the gentleman the best care we could.
“That was the first time I’ve been involved in an emergency situation when I wasn’t on duty but, fortunately, the RNLI training we receive is so good that it stays with you, even when you’re not on the beach, whatever you’re doing.
“I’m just pleased I was in the right place at the right time.”
Rachel is hoping to return to work as an RNLI lifeguard in the summer.