The coastguard’s rescue helicopter was called to assist crews searching for a missing four-year-old girl on Camber Beach on Sunday (August 5).
The young girl was reported missing at 2.32pm sparking a search operation including the HM coastguard, RNLI lifeguards, Rye Harbour’s inshore lifeboat, Sussex Police and the rescue helicopter from Lydd.
At 3.55pm, the girl was found safe on the shore and the lifeboat was returned to the station.
Tony Peters, who was at the helm of the Rye Harbour inshore lifeboat, said: “I took us into safe but close water. At this point the sea was thronged with people enjoying the calm sea.
“The Rye Harbour boat was joined by the rescue helicopter from Lydd, the coastguards, police and RNLI lifeguards, all with the same intent, to save the life of the missing youngster.”
Crew-member Sharon Gozna added: “The coastguards and lifeguards used loud-hailers to evacuate the people from the sea. I had never seen this before during an operation at Camber but it was really successful, enabling the lifeboat and helicopter to do a thorough sweep of the water. Anyone left would obviously be in distress.”
Lifeguards said this was another operation that showed the ‘strength of agencies all working together’.
An RNLI Lifeguard water rescue craft ran as close to the water’s edge as possible, the helicopter was overhead and the RNLI lifeboat was able to search the water unimpeded whilst the police and coastguards were assisting on the beach.
Tony Peters said in the de-briefing that he was ‘very impressed with the professionalism and calmness’ of his crew members Sharon Gozna, Izzy Sharpe and Matt Ellis during the call out.
In a statement, the Rye Harbour lifeboat crew said: “During the prolonged hot weather when the public flock to the beach it is very important to make sure that everyone is as safe as possible.
“The RNLI advises that children are at least risk when supervised.
“As soon as you get to the beach, it is best to agree a meeting point in case of separation. On RNLI Lifeguard beaches visit the lifeguard hut and they will give you a special wristband to put your contact details on.
“Always respect the water.”