Author: Bob Warwick
At 4pm yesterday RNLI New Brighton were advised that a person was stuck up to the chest in mud on the Crosby shore. In response our rescue hovercraft H-005 Hurley Spirit with a crew of four was launched and quickly crossed the Mersey estuary.
On the busy Crosby beach the RNLI Lifeguards were doing a sterling job keeping people calm, away from the scene, warning of the dangers in the area and directing the hovercraft to the casualty. Meanwhile the HM Coastguard mud rescue teams were preparing to deploy their equipment when the hovercraft arrived.
In charge of the hovercraft Senior Commander Graham Lowe explained ‘ Approaching the area we found the casualty was about ½ mile out from the Crosby beach, about ½ way along and about 10metres out from the sewer outlet pipe, in an area of very soft sand and mud. The casualty, a female, was deeply embedded in the soft mud and had been stuck for approx 40 minutes. She was very frightened and cold, even though it was one of the hottest days of the summer the mud just drains away body heat. Our pilot Chris Henderson skillfully brought the hovercraft to within a few inches behind her. Myself and crewman Mike Jones then deployed mud mats around her and these gave us a platform to work from. We reaching down into the goo and managed eventually to release her legs and haul a very relieved young lady onto the hovercraft. With reassuring words and wrapped in a blanket we flew her to Crosby beach and awaiting ambulance and paramedics.’
Commander Lowe added ‘ This area of beach has many shifting areas of soft mud and sinking sand which can catch out both visitors and locals. It is vital that attention is paid to the warning signs on the beach and be aware that the tide can come in very quickly in this area. On this occasion it was fortunate that the tide was out otherwise the outcome may have been tragic.’
Also on board the hovercraft was the RNLI’s Divisional Operations Manager Matt Crofts, who was doing one of his regular inspections of the lifeboat station, he commented ‘ Having been in RNLI for many years this was my first opportunity to be a crew member on an actual rescue by hovercraft. I was very impressed with the skill and professionalism shown by Commander Lowe and crew and it clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the hovercraft to safely get to places otherwise potentially unreachable. Today’s rescue clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the RNLI lifeboat crews and lifeguards as an integral part of a wider team of emergency agencies. This rescue succeeded because of the smooth inter agency team work between the local HM Coastguard teams, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service, Ambulance Service and ourselves.’