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'Self-rescue' warning after major op off Cornwall

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8:55am 14th August 2017
(Updated 8:55am 14th August 2017)

Three people have been winched from the sea off the north Cornwall coast.

One was left clinging to rocks after getting cut off at Northcott Mouth near Bude.

Coastguard rescuers, two lifeboats and the helicopter got the call on Friday night.

It is sparking a warning about trying to self-rescue, after one casualty went in to try to help the first.

Crews are putting out a reminder never to attempt a rescue and to always call 999 and ask for the coastguard.

Posting on Facebook on Saturday, Bude Coastguard Rescue Team said: "Bude Coastguard Rescue Team were paged at 9:32pm 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".

8:55am 14th August 2017

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