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27 May 2010, 11:58
A 14 year old girl from Southwick's being treated for a suspected spine injury after jumping into shallow water near Shoreham Harbour in a craze known as tombstoning. Lifeboat Crews were called after a group of friends were filming each other leaping off breakwaters in the Harbour on Tuesday afternoon.
Inshore Lifeboat crews based at Shoreham were alerted to the incident just after 5.00pm on Tuesday 25th and arrived at the scene within just a few minutes.
The 14-year old girl from Southwick had gone down to Shoreham Harbour with several of her friends after school, and were videoing themselves leaping off the harbours East Breakwater, when the accident happened.
The youngster made a running jump off the breakwater towards the sea, and landed feet first into shallow water that was just over half a metre deep. As worried onlookers dialled 999 three of her schoolfriends scrambled down to the shoreline and dragged the injured girl out of the sea and onto the ‘spending beach’ – the small area of sand and pebbles found between the harbours east breakwater and the inner arm.
The Shoreham crew beached their lifeboat and rushed over to attend to the teenager, who has suffered suspected spinal compression injuries and also suffered minor facial injuries when she impacted the sea bed.
The volunteer crew had begun to administer first-aid to the young casualty when they were joined by ambulance technicians and, shortly after, a paramedic. Between them they comforted the teenager as they awaited the arrival of the Solent based rescue helicopter, en-route with specialist medical equipment on board.
On arrival at the scene the pilot of the helicopter skilfully landed the helicopter as close as possible to the injured girl.
Having left his winchman, spinal board and medical equipment on the beach, the pilot took off and circled the area as the lifeboat crew and winchman prepared the young girl for the airlift to the Royal Sussex County Hospital.
With the tide rising, to within a few feet of the injured girl and closing in on the group, the team had to work as fast, but as safely as possible. Due to a suspected spinal injuries, they could not risk moving her without first securing her to the spinal board.
With only a few minutes to spare the pilot, once again, landed his helicopter back on to the ‘spending’ beach and, once the lifeboat crew had transferred the young casualty onto the aircraft, took-off and began his short trip to the East Brighton Park landing site for the hospital.