RNLI treat injured woman on paddle steamer returning to Swanage

A RNLI volunteer undertook a tricky manoeuvre to get back to his lifeboat in Poole Bay in Dorset, after treating an injured passenger on the historic paddle steamer the Waverley.

PS Waverley – the last seagoing passenger-carrying paddle steamer in the world – was on a trip from Swanage Pier to watch the Bournemouth Airshow on Sunday 3rd September 2023, when a female passenger suffered an injury to her head.

The Waverley at Swanage Pier
Karen Brown

Before the drama, PS Waverley set off from Swanage Pier to watch the final day of the Bournemouth Airshow

Urgent medical treatment

The woman required urgent medical treatment, so Poole’s Atlantic lifeboat, which had launched earlier and was already seagoing, was requested to go to help the crew of the paddle steamer with the emergency. 

At this time, the Waverley was positioned just off the Bournemouth coastline, while the passengers watched the aerial display including the Royal Air Force aerobatic team, the Red Arrows.

The RNLI crew member, along with a first aid kit, boarded the paddlesteamer.

The Waverley and the red arrows
Karen Brown

The Red Arrows viewed from the Waverley

Poole RNLI and the Waverley at Bournemouth Airshow
Poole RNLI

The Poole Lifeboat crew were in the bay observing the Red Arrows when they were called to assist the Waverley

“Ambulance was requested to meet the vessel in Swanage”

Poole Lifeboat Station reported:

“The lifeboat volunteer assessed the casualty and administered first aid. As the vessel was heading back to Swanage, an ambulance was requested to meet the vessel in Swanage, for the lady to seek further treatment. 

“As the Waverley was now underway, the lifeboat volunteer gingerly made his way down the pilot steps to board the lifeboat.”

Poole RNLI and the Waverley at Bournemouth Airshow
Poole RNLI

After giving medical treatment to the woman, the RNLI volunteer first lowered the yellow first aid kit back down to the lifeboat

Waverley and RNLI
Karen Brown

Next he started making his way from the Waverley down the ladder to the waiting lifeboat

Rousing cheer from those onboard the Waverley

With the paddle steamer heading back to Swanage, the lifeboat crew member had a much more challenging task to alight from the moving Waverley to the lifeboat. 

The helm of Poole Lifeboat skillfully manoeuvred the lifeboat alongside the Waverley while underway, to a position directly under the pilot ladder. 

The crew member, who was reported not to particularly like heights, then stepped back down into the lifeboat to a rousing cheer from those onboard the Waverley.

Waverley and RNLI
Karen Brown

The lifeboat hovered below the crew member as he made his descent

Poole RNLI and the Waverley at Bournemouth Airshow
Poole RNLI

Back safely in the lifeboat

Watch Karen Brown’s video

The whole exercise was filmed by passenger and Swanage resident Karen Brown, who remarked on the “awesome skill” exhibited by the RNLI.

Watch RNLI Poole’s video

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