Dangers of mud highlighted by multi-agency mud rescue demonstration

Hovercraft demonstrationFirefighters from Avon Fire & Rescue Service (AF&RS) and HM Coastguard are joining forces to highlight the dangers of straying too far from the North Somerset coastline.

On Thursday 20 October a multi-agency exercise will be taking place at Royal Sands, Weston-super-Mare, to demonstrate a simulated rescue.

Since January 2011 the AF&RS hovercraft has been involved in the rescue of nine adults, three children, and one dog, who got into difficulty at Weston Bay.

The scenario will involve a casualty trapped in mud in the Black Rock area with the agencies involved, including firefighters on board the AF&RS hovercraft, assisting the casualty to safety.

AF&RS Station Manager, Steve Bagg, said: “It has been a busy summer for the hovercraft this year in Weston-super-Mare so we hope this exercise will help educate people about just how dangerous the coastline can be.

“Many of those we have rescued this year had been enjoying a walk along the beach, not realising just how dangerous the incoming tide can be. They had either become exhausted before reaching safety or got stuck in the mud.

Severn Sector Manager for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Tris Newey, said: “Since January 2011, in addition to the incidents where the fire and rescue hovercraft was used, the Coastguard Rescue Team from Weston-super-Mare recovered a further three people from inaccessible areas of the River Axe using its mud rescue equipment, and responded to around 20 reports of persons appearing to be in difficulty in the mud where no action was required.

“We would advise people to take heed of the warning signs on the beach, make sure they check the tide times and not to venture out too far. We don’t want to stop people enjoying the North Somerset coastline, we just want them to be aware of the risks. If people notice anyone in difficulty on the beach, they should dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

The AF&RS hovercraft was introduced to the service’s fleet in 2008 to cover an area of the shoreline from Brean Down to Sand Bay. It is equipped to deal with a range of incidents including rescuing people who have became trapped in the mud and providing support across the Avon area during times of inland flooding.