Dramatic footage from the weekend’s rescue, where an attempted a DIY rescue on rocks in North Cornwall went wrong and three people were lifted to safety by the Coastguard helicopter.
Rescue services are urging people not to attempt a rescue themselves and call in the pros.
Bude Coastguard Rescue Team said “As honourable as it may be conceived to attempt an amateur rescue, by doing so it’s very possible that you will further compound an already perilous situation. The safest and smartest thing to do is call the emergency services, provide as much information as possible, and wait at the scene for the professional rescue service to attend”
Footage just released shows the incredible moment a Coastguard helicopter winchman was battered by waves as he rescued three casualties in Bude on Saturday.
The UK Coastguard search and rescue helicopter based at Newquay was alerted by the Coastguard at 9.32pm on Saturday (12 August) to a person cut off by the tide clinging to the rocks at Bude, NorthCornwall. It took the helicopter – flown by Captain Graham ‘Sharky’ FInn and Co-Pilot Captain Dave Crimmen – only 8 minutes to get into the air and by 9.53pm they had arrived on scene in Bude, which is 30 miles away. As they were racing to the scene, the Coastguard alerted the crew that there were two more people in the water who were attempting to rescue the first casualty.
The cliff was inaccessible from above despite Devon and Cornwall Police and the Bude Coastguard Rescue Teams arriving quickly on scene.
Coastguard Winch Operator Ginge Steabler said: “This was a challenging rescue for a number of reasons: firstly the worrying picture of how many people were involved and their location; the close proximity of the casualties to the cliff; the weather with an offshore wind blowing directly onto the cliff, large waves, messy surf and peaking high tide”.
Mark ‘Spike’ Hughes the Coastguard Winchman was lowered on the winch towards him; and as he was manoeuvred towards the casualty on the rock, he was hit a by a large unsighted wave. Recovering quickly he was hit a second time just as he was placing the strop over the casualty. Still attached to the winch wire, both were swept into the sea. They were winched quickly out of the surf but as they came out, Spike realised the rescue strop was just around the man’s arm. Using the wireless radio, he directed they were to be taken to the beach, what little of it that was left, at the base of the cliff. Safely ashore, the second casualty was located on the beach safe and well with the third casualty (who had made the call to the Coastguard) who had climbed down the cliff to offer assistance. All three were subsequently winched into the helicopter and two of the casualties were taken to Derriford hospital suffering from mild hypothermia.
Captain Graham ‘Sharky’ Finn said: “This video clearly shows what can happen when people are cut off by the tide but also the sterling job Spike the winchman did in the harsh conditions and rapidly changing situation to successfully rescue the casualties.”
Speaking after the incident Alan Pickersgill, UK Coastguard said: “This incident could so easily have turned into a really tragic one. If you see someone in difficulty at sea or along the Coast please immediately call 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you are going out for a walk along the shore make sure that you check the tide times – you will often see this information at the entry to beaches or check it online – and ensure that you are back in plenty of time.”
Report from Bude Coastguard Rescue Team
Saturday 12th August 2017
Bude Coastguard Rescue Team were paged at 21:32 last night, and tasked following the report of a person stuck on the rocks at Northcott Mouth, with another person trapped having attempted a rescue. Rescue 924, the Coastguard rescue helicopter, was also tasked, as was Bude Lifeboat. Bude Police were already on scene.
As the team arrived at Northcott Beach, radio communication was received from Bude Lifeboat, indicating that their engine had failed whilst offshore from the incident. As is procedure, Padstow All-Weather Lifeboat was tasked in response, to come to the aid of the crew of Bude Lifeboat.
Meanwhile, mustering on scene, Bude CRT split into two, with one team basing themselves in the field to the south of Northcott Bungalow to provide communications, whilst the other team liaised with police and the first informant above the unfolding scene. Following a briefing from the police, and with a visual check, it appeared that one casualty was in serious danger, on a rock that was being battered by waves, and two further casualties (one of whom had attempted a rescue) were stuck in a cove just to the north of the first casualty’s position. This information was also relayed to Rescue 924, who were now on scene. As many sightseers had congregated at the clifftop, Bude CRT and the police then set about providing crowd control.
As this situation unfolded, word was received that Bude Lifeboat had managed to restart their engine, and they set about returning to the Lifeboat Station. Padstow Lifeboat was stood down.
Meanwhile, Rescue 924 quickly lowered a winchman to rescue the first casualty, who was at this point in the water. The winchman was lowered into the breaking waves, and managed to retrieve the casualty and lift them to the beach. As this rescue was under way, members of Bude CRT who were in the southerly position set about preparing a Helicopter Landing Site, should Rescue 924 decide to land on the cliff top.
After having winched all three casualties aboard the helicopter, Rescue 924 then set down and released the person who had attempted a rescue, to be reunited with his partner. The other two casualties were flown directly to hospital. Bude CRT did a final check of the cliff top, and then returned to the Coastguard station.
The first informant in this situation did exactly the right thing – they dialed 999 and asked for the Coastguard. The Coastguard Operations Centre in Falmouth then scrambled all the necessary assets to the scene.
As honourable as it may be conceived to attempt an amateur rescue, by doing so it’s very possible that you will further compound an already perilous situation. The safest and smartest thing to do is call the emergency services, provide as much information as possible, and wait at the scene for the professional rescue service to attend”