Heroic off-duty coastguards save man’s life in waters at Felixstowe Ferry

Off-duty coastguards Alasdair Nicol and Phillip Pearce were in the right place at the right time whe

Off-duty coastguards Alasdair Nicol and Phillip Pearce were in the right place at the right time when they helped a man having difficulty in the water in Felixstowe Ferry on Tuesday. - Credit: Su Anderson

Two off-duty coastguards whose heroic quick-thinking saved a man’s life in Felixstowe Ferry on Tuesday evening have said they did ‘nothing out of the ordinary’.

Off-duty coastguards Alasdair Nicol and Phillip Pearce were in the right place at the right time whe

Off-duty coastguards Alasdair Nicol and Phillip Pearce were in the right place at the right time when they helped a man having difficulty in the water in Felixstowe Ferry on Tuesday. - Credit: Su Anderson

Phillip Pearce and Alasdair Nicol had been conducting maintenance work to one of the coastguard’s assistance boats, which is kept at the sailing club, at around 6.45pm when, on walking to the carpark, they saw a man in difficulty in the water.

Acting on instinct, the men rushed to rescue him, but with a strong tide and no coastguard rescue equipment available for a safe water rescue they were forced to use their experience and local knowledge.

“Your training takes over when you see something like that happen,” said Mr Pearce. “At the time we were off duty, but you are always on call. You’re always on duty, even though you’re not.

“You are never not a coastguard.

Off-duty coastguards Alasdair Nicol and Phillip Pearce were in the right place at the right time whe

Off-duty coastguards Alasdair Nicol and Phillip Pearce were in the right place at the right time when they helped a man having difficulty in the water in Felixstowe Ferry on Tuesday. - Credit: Su Anderson

“It’s very rare to see someone swimming in the location that he was in. The next thing I thought was ‘he needs some help’.

“It was obvious he was struggling.”

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The pair could see that the man, believed to be in his 40s, was being pulled downriver and Mr Pearce recalled how he climbed onto the rock groins to waist depth. From there, he was able to reach out to the man and pull the man to safety while Mr Nicol called for an ambulance and further assistance from on-duty coastguard officers.

“He was showing the effects of cold,” Mr Pearce added. “He had been in the water for a little while, probably between seven and eight minutes, and was very cold.

“We administered first aid, got him into a thermal protective aid and got his wet clothes off him.

“He was very grateful.”

However, Mr Pearce brushed away the notion that the pair’s actions had been heroic, insisting that anybody would have done the same thing.

“It could have been anybody that done what we did,” he said. “You don’t need to be a coastguard to help someone that’s in the water.

“We were there at the right time and our training took over, but it could have been anyone.

“I would emphasis that if someone does see someone in difficulty that whilst they should make an effort to assist without putting themselves at risk, one of the most important things is to dial 999 and ask for coastguard assistance.”

The man was left in the care of the ambulance service, which sent one rapid response vehicle and an ambulance crew to the scene.

The man was conscious and breathing and no critical care was administered.

He was taken to Ipswich Hospital for further treatment in a non-life-threatening condition.