Multi-agency rescue saves lone walker trapped in coastal mud

A coordinated multi-agency Merseyside rescue was conducted to free a lone walker who found himself waist-deep in mud on the banks of the River Alt and return him to safety.

Wirral volunteer crews from New Brighton and Hoylake RNLI were tasked, along with units from Crosby Coastguard Rescue Team (CRT), Wirral Coastguard Rescue Team (CRT), Mersey Fire & Rescue, and Northwest Ambulance’s Hazardous Area Response Team (HART), by Holyhead Coastguard on the second call out of the day around 3pm on Tuesday 28 February. The teams were responding to a person who had become half-submerged in deep mud, just offshore from Blundellsands Sailing Club.

Hoylake RNLI’s hovercraft, the Hurley Spirit, was initially tasked by Holyhead. Once on the scene, Crosby CRT requested New Brighton’s Atlantic-85 lifeboat, the Charles Dibdin, to launch as it became apparent that accessing the casualty would be difficult without further assistance due to a flooding tide into the River Alt.

The crew from New Brighton arrived first at the scene where the casualty was located. Upon arrival, two members from Coastguard Rescue Teams, a HART paramedic, two crew members from Mersey Fire & Rescue, and all necessary equipment were transferred across the river in the lifeboat from the sailing club slipway to the bank where the casualty was in distress.

New Brighton RNLI crew, Crosby CRT and Mersey Fire began to dig out the casualty whilst he was assessed for injuries, when Hoylake’s hovercraft arrived on scene to provide crucial assistance with the rescue effort. With all units working efficiently and professionally, the casualty was able to be extracted from the mud and recovered to Hoylake RNLI’s hovercraft on a Coastguard rescue sled.

The casualty, accompanied by the HART paramedic, was then transferred by Hoylake RNLI to an awaiting ambulance at Crosby Coastguard station nearby. Meanwhile, New Brighton RNLI recovered the agency workers who had been operating on scene, as well as their equipment, and returned them to the slipway at the Sailing Club.

New Brighton RNLI helm, Mike Stannard, said, “This was a very well-executed rescue between the various assets that we are fortunate to be able to call on across Merseyside. The communication between the teams was fantastic, and resulted in the safe rescue of a man who otherwise might have been in significant danger on a rising tide. It might take a little while to get the mud off!”

Hoylake RNLI Coxswain Howie Owen added, “Dangerous muddy areas feature all around our region’s coast. If you ever get stuck in mud, try to spread your weight as evenly as possible across the surface. Avoid moving, stay as calm as you can, and discourage other people from trying to rescue you before the emergency services arrive as they may become stuck too.”

If you are out walking near the coast, always be wary of mud. Always carry a means of communication and, should you encounter difficulty yourself or observe others, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

Image: RNLI/Hoylake

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