Ravi Saini, from Leeds, travelled to London to meet Prince William to mark Emergency Services Day (999 Day), held annually on September 9 to pay tribute those working and volunteering in the emergency services and the NHS across the country.
Also attending the event at Dockhead Fire Station in south London were Ravi’s father Nathu and the three crew members from RNLI Scarborough Lifeboat Station involved in Ravi’s rescue – Rob Gaunt, Adam Sheader and Rudi Barman.
Ravi made national headlines last summer when he described how he’d used the RNLI’s Float to Live advice after being caught in a rip current in Scarborough’s South Bay
He’s since helped spread the charity’s Float to Live message through newspaper, TV and radio interviews across the UK and worldwide. After yesterday’s event Ravi described what it was like to share his story with a Royal audience: ‘It was a great experience. I was quite nervous, but he was really friendly, and asked me about my story’.
Scarborough crew member Adam Sheader was keen to give Ravi the spotlight: ‘We don’t volunteer for the plaudits – the reward is knowing you’ve helped keep people safe when they visit our coastline. But it is nice to be recognised in this way, especially by someone like His Royal Highness, who’s volunteered his own time and effort as a pilot for the East Anglia Air Ambulance. Hopefully sharing Ravi’s story can help teach other children about water safety. He’s an inspiration to everybody.’
Ravi and the crew from RNLI Scarborough recently recalled his rescue for an episode of the RNLI’s podcast, ‘Lifesavers’:
‘I realised that the water was coming up, Ravi says. ‘I could no longer touch the floor. I shouted “Help! Help! Help!” My dad can’t swim. He just had to go to the shore and raise the alarm.’
Nathu remembers trying to reach his son in deep water with strong currents: ‘The water was round my neck and I lost my control, slowly, slowly he was going too far. Once or twice we saw his face. After that we didn't see him.’
‘I was getting pulled out,’ says Ravi. ‘I was really scared – petrified. I thought that this was the end of my life.’
Then Ravi remembered the advice he’d seen on TV from the RNLI – about what to do in situations like this. The advice was to lie on your back and float to live. Ravi had practised this during his school swimming lessons in Year 4, but this was the first time he’d tried it in the sea. By spreading his arms and legs out like a starfish, he found he was able to float and control his breathing.
‘We’d been tasked to search a particular area and we’d been searching for a while,’ recalls Helm Rob Gaunt. ‘Then we had a bit of a discussion between ourselves. Rudi pointed out he was more likely to be over towards the harbour mouth because of the tide. So we turned tail and headed over that way. That’s when we saw him out of the corner of an eye.
‘I didn’t see the lifeboat, I heard it,’ says Ravi. ‘Tiny splashes. So I started shouting and then I was like, “Yes, they came to get me. I’m going to get a second chance to live!”’
Scarborough crew member Rudi Barman described Ravi as ‘an incredible young man’: ‘He resisted the urge to panic which, in those conditions, would have been a big problem. The fact that he was on his back floating to live is just amazing really. That's what saved his life.’
5 steps to know how to float:
· If you fall into water, fight your instinct to thrash around.
· Lean back, extend your arms and legs.
· If you need to, gently move them around to help you float.
· Float until you can control your breathing.
· Only then, call for help or swim to safety.