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mud rescue in Weston led by Burnham-On-Sea hovercraft
hovercraft was at the centre of a major mud rescue operation in Weston-super-Mare
during the early hours of Monday April 25.
Coastguard asked for the assistance of the Burnham hovercraft at 02:24
hours to spearhead the rescue of a male who had attempted suicide in
mud 500 metres off the end of Weston-super-Mare Pier.
Two helicopters and more than 40 rescue personnel were involved in the
incident, which involved Coastguard teams from Burnham and Weston, the
Burnham hovercraft, Weston RNLI, Avon and Somerset Ambulance and Avon
and Somerset Police.
Burnham's Spirit Of Lelaina hovercraft launched from Weston beach at
02:55 hours and took Coastguard and paramedics to the scene.
The craft was guided to the casualty by the Police's Quebec 99 helicopter
using searchlights and an onboard infra-red camera.
on scene, the Coastguard Mud Rescue Team and paramedics waded through
knee-deep mud to move the casualty - who was suffering from multiple
injuries and suspected hypothermia - onto a stretcher.
The stretcher was taken onboard the waiting hovercraft then back to
the shoreline, where the Coastguard rushed the casualty to an ambulance.
The casualty was taken to Weston General Hospital, leaving the Pier
area at approximately 03:15.
The Burnham hovercraft went back to the scene two further times - aided
by the RAF's Rescue Helicopter 169 from Chivenor - to bring paramedics,
police and Coastguard teams safely back to shore.
Coastguard Duty Watch Manager Eric Birkett said: "The hovercraft
was essential in this operation due to the distance that the casualty
was from shore. If the Mud Rescue Team need to go out into the mud more
than half a mile we always call on either the hovercraft or helicopter."
to the call-out time and flying time involved tonight, it was far quicker
to get the hovercraft on scene. The hovercraft went out three times
during this incident - the first time it has been used outside of Burnham
- and it was very successful."
Ron Phipps, the Coastguard's Severn Sector Manager, who was at the scene,
added: "The hovercraft team did an excellent job, working closely
with the Coastguard. We have all trained hard for these incidents and
it's clearly paying off now during real incidents."
Hovercraft pilot Simon Triggol, who steered the hovercraft across the
mud in today's incident, praised the involvement of the helicopter teams,
saying: "Without them we might have struggled to find the casualty.
Once they lit up the incident scene, we were able to fly straight to
the area, within a short distance of the casualty, to allow the coastguard
and paramedics to reach him." He added: "This was a very successful
Burnham hovercraft chairman Alan Miller said: "It's unusual for
us to be asked to provide assistance out of area, but on this particular
occasion it was critical to get the casualty back to shore as soon as
He added: "Given that we were called out at 02:24 and launched
in Weston at 02:55, I'm incredibly impressed with how the hovercraft
team has reacted. To respond so quickly in the middle of the night and
to have the hovercraft in operation in Weston is incredible. I couldn't
have asked for any more from my team."
Burnham-On-Sea's hovercraft is run by BARB, a charity, and is manned
by a team of 25 volunteers. The craft has helped and rescued more than
50 people along the Somerset coastline during the last 12 months.
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