Teacher helps save woman's life who fell in water at town's slipway
PUBLISHED: 17:49 21 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:30 23 October 2019
A teacher who tried to rescue a woman after she was dragged out to sea by tidal currents has been praised for his quick-thinking response.
Nigel Smith, a history teacher at The King Alfred School, an Academy (TKASA), threw the woman a rescue line after she was stuck in water near Burnham slipway on October 13.
He said his 13 years of experience as a former coastguard member 'kicked-in', and he rushed to the scene after he saw a crowd of people gather at the town's jetty on the night, at around 7pm.
She clinged to a pole near the water after falling in the sea and lost her grip as the water rose, forcing her further into the water.
Nigel's efforts to rescue her were thwarted by strong currents, which edged her away from grabbing the rope, but emergency services quickly came to pull her out from the sea.
Nigel is thankful to the town's RNLI, coastguard, South Western Ambulance Service and Avon and Somerset Constabulary for their 'quick response' to the emergency situation.
He said: "I saw someone stuck in the water at the end of Burnham jetty and my training kicked in almost instantly.
"Thirteen years of experience at Burnham Coastguard meant I knew exactly what to do - it's second nature to me now.
"I was in the right place at the right time and I was happy to help."
Nathan Jenkins, principal of the Highbridge school, said: "This was an amazing, heroic act of quick-thinking by Nigel.
"We are very lucky to have many teachers just like him, who bring learning to life every day, as well as inspiring students with heroic acts such as this one."
Nigel is also a scout leader and will teach children life-saving skills in preparation for similar incidents.
A spokesman for Burnham Coastguard said: "This was a very quick and efficient rescue with a positive outcome.
"This is all thanks to a member of the community, who called the job in without hesitation, as well as one of our former coastguard members, who was quick to act with a throwline to help rescue the woman.
"If you see anyone in difficulty when out at sea, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard, especially in this weather.
"Every second counts, and your actions could save a life."