Lowdown on Wattisham crews' busiest week

THE last week has seen crews from Wattisham head out in the famous yellow Sea King helicopters time and again in one of its busiest weeks in history.

SUFFOLK'S helicopter search and rescue teams have long been a source of pride in the county as they take part in dangerous missions to save lives.

And the last week has seen crews from Wattisham head out in the famous yellow Sea King helicopters time and again in one of its busiest weeks in history.

From saving people trapped by flood waters in Sheffield overnight on Monday to the desperate attempts to save the life of a drowning woman on Thursday, the RAF teams have been busier than ever.

RAF lieutenant Tyson Weinart, who pilots the helicopters, said: “This week has been one of the busiest in Wattisham's history.

“It has been very busy and it has been unusual for us.

“It can be difficult going from rescuing 23 people in one rescue to the next day being called to a mission where you can't save the person.

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“It is a unique job in that way, and whilst you never wish any harm on anyone, it is when the harm comes that we get busy. You do get a bit of a high when you are able to rescue people.”

On Monday, a search and rescue team joined firefighters dealing with a tug blaze off the East Anglian coast.

The 30 metre tug was on fire two miles north east of Cromer at 8am.

The search and rescue team joined coastguard rescue teams from Lowestoft, Cromer and Felixstowe.

Overnight on Monday, the crew were involved in one their highest profile and most daring missions to date - saving the lives of people trapped by rising flood waters in Sheffield.

After torrential downpours engulfed the city, the search and rescue helicopter from RAF Wattisham was one of three Sea Kings deployed after the city was virtually cut off.

A four-man crew saved the lives of 23 people who had become trapped in a shopping centre and plucked another two people from the water.

On Wednesday, a crew was called to Old Felixstowe where Kari Boto was found drowning in the sea.

Despite airlifting the 53-year-old, from Ipswich, to Ipswich Hospital and a 90minute battle by resuscitation teams to save her, she died later that day.

On Thursday, a Wattisham crew were called to the River Colne, near Colchester, after five people became stuck on the mud.

They airlifted five people at around 3.35pm and were joined at the scene by Clacton Coastguard Rescue Team, Walton Mud Rescue Team and West Mersea inshore lifeboat.

Speaking after the incident flight lieutenant Lee Docherty, from the Wattisham rescue helicopter team, said: “One guy was up to his waist and was completely stuck.

“We winched our winch man down and he managed to free him and winched the other guys to shore.

“They seemed fine. The coastguard was on scene to recover them. They were well looked after.”

N Would you like to say thank you to the search and rescue teams? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Since June 20, the Wattisham crews have been called out on 13 missions and have recovered 37 people>