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Crowd of 2,500 flocks to emergency services safety awareness event

A crowd of 2,500 people descended on Burnham's seafront on Saturday July 16th to support the crews of six Somerset emergency rescue services and watch them perform two dramatic rescue demonstrations.

A winchman is lowered from the helicopter onto the RNLI lifeboatAmong the groups taking part during the second annual ESCAPE Day (Emergency Services Community Awareness and Promotion Event), were the Burnham Coastguard, Burnham Hovercraft, RNLI, Avon and Somerset Constabulary, a Police Dogs Team and St John Ambulance.

Vehicles from each service were on display and life-saving demonstrations were given by each of the organisations to provide the public with a rare chance to see their rescue work close-up.

Orange smoke signified the start of the airbourne rescue exerciseDemonstrating how the organisations work together, two training exercises were held - one a mud rescue involving the Coastguard Mud Rescue Team, hovercraft and paramedics - the other a sea rescue involving an RNLI lifeboat, BARB's inshore rescue boat, the Coastguard, an RAF Helicopter and paramedics.

The RAF's Sea King helicopter flew in from Devon to perform a fly-past in Bridgwater Bay before dramatically lowering a winchman onto the RNLI's Atlantic 75 lifeboat. This is the same manoeuvre often performed during real water emergencies along Somerset's coastline.

The 'casualty' Mel Gosling is taken by the Coastguard  to paramedics.The 'casualty' - who in this case BARB's Mel Gosling - was taken from the lifeboat to the shore and then up to the seafront by the Coastguard where he was treated by paramedics from St John Ambulance.

In the second exercise, the hovercraft responded to calls for help from the Coastguard Mud Rescue Team on Stert Island, opposite Burnham, where a casualty had become stuck.

The Spirit Of Lelaina in action on Stert Island during Saturday's exercise.Burnham's Coastguard assessed the scene before Robin Hewlett, officer in charge, called on the hovercraft. Within minutes, the hovercraft was on the beach and its crew had launched the craft.

Members of the Mud Rescue were taken to Stert onboard the craft where they then extracted a 'casualty' - in this case the Coastguard's Neil Mynett - before bringing him back to the shore where he was given medical attention from St John's Keith Gough and his team.

A police dog sinks his teeth into PCSO Stuart Nichols of Burnham Police.Loud gun shots were then fired to herald the start of a police dog demonstration in which the crowds saw a 'criminal' trying to escape from an Alsatian.

Needless to say, the 'villain' - in this case PCSO Stuart Nichols of Burnham Police - didn't get very far across the beach before the snarling dog had sunk his teeth into his arm.

Large crowds of onlookers lined the seafront to watch the series of demonstrations, which provided a glimpse into the work of all the emergency services involved and also showed how closely the groups frequently have to work together.

The spectators were also able to browse a number of stalls at the event, which were raising funds for the six organisations. A wide range of greetings cards, merchandise and bric-a-brac was sold with the RNLI raising £219 alone from the sale of items on its stand - and £52 being raised from the sale of orange Lelaina Appeal wristbands.

See more photos from ESCAPE 2005 here


More photos from ESCAPE 2005

Download the 2005 ESCAPE Day Programme here [PDF Document]

2004 ESCAPE Day

Burnham Hovercraft Web site

Burnham RNLI Web site



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