Avon Fire & Rescue team up with HM Coastguard for mud rescue training

Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) is teaming up with HM Coastguard and beach wardens for mud rescue training on Thursday (19/07) in preparation for the school summer holidays.

Weston-super-Mare receives around 100,000 visitors a day during August, most of which are tourists and unsure about safety issues along the seafront.

Due to these high numbers, in 2017, AF&RS were called to 29 incidents on the beachfront.

To help combat this and prepare for the upcoming holidays, crews from Weston-super-Mare fire station will be practising hovercraft drills, using the inflatable work platform and undertaking mud rescue training with HM Coastguard and beach wardens.

Already this year, crews were called to the seafront when 30 school children from Birmingham waded too far out into the mudflats on Tuesday 10th July.

While they were thankfully able to self-rescue with the assistance of beach wardens, it demonstrated just how quickly a situation can turn if people are unaware of the dangers.

Anna James, Blue Watch Manager at Weston-super-Mare fire station, said: “We are often called to the beachfront with the Coastguard as people don’t fully appreciate the dangers of the mud.

“In the hot weather, especially if alcohol is involved, people will often try to travel out too far or get caught out by the changing tide.

“We work and train closely with the Coastguard and beach wardens to put us in the best position to act quickly and effectively.”

Gareth Davis, Senior Coastal Operations officer for HM Coastguard, added: “The summer holidays is always a particularly busy time for us.

“We get people from all over the country, some who have never been to a beach before and they can be unclear on the risks, especially those associated with walking out onto the mudflats that are prevalent in this area.

"Our advice is to never wander out onto the mud in the first place, always know where your children are and in case you find yourself in difficulties out on the mud, make sure you know how to react.”

Top tips while using the beach:

  • Collect a child safety wristband from the Visitor Information Centre or Sovereign Shopping Centre
  • Check for hazards such as tides or currents 
  • Consider what could be hidden under the water, such as mud
  • Always read the signs
  • Only swim with friends or family
  • Don’t wade out too far or into unknown areas

What to do if you find yourself in danger:

  • Stay Calm
  • Avoid too much movement
  • Try and spread your weight
  • Shout loudly to attract attention
  • Discourage untrained persons from trying to rescue you
  • Dial 999