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RAF heroes make their 100th rescue

PUBLISHED: 23:39 24 August 2002 | UPDATED: 12:31 03 March 2010

WATTISHAM'S RAF air sea rescue heroes are a ton up after carrying out their 100th rescue in a year of dramatic call outs.

RAF Sea King helicopters from Wattisham Airfield carried out their 100th rescue this week when they helped pluck an injured woman from the cliffs at Mundesley near Cromer.

WATTISHAM'S RAF air sea rescue heroes are a ton up after carrying out their 100th rescue in a year of dramatic call outs.

RAF Sea King helicopters from Wattisham Airfield carried out their 100th rescue this week when they helped pluck an injured woman from the cliffs at Mundesley near Cromer.

The call came into the Operations Room at 1pm on Wednesday.

By the time the captain, Flt Lt Dave Kay, was overhead the caravan park at Mundesley, the coastguards had already started a stretcher rescue from the beach.

Sgt Steve Labouchardiere, the winchman and paramedic, was aware that the woman casualty had a broken ankle. He used the helicopter's radio to discuss whether she should be winched direct into the Sea King or whether the coastguards should continue with their plan.

Once it was decided that it was safer for the coastguards to carry on with their own rescue, the helicopter had to find somewhere safe to land so that the stretcher could be lifted on board and the casualty flown to hospital.

Only seven minutes later the Sea King was landing at the Norwich and Norfolk Hospital with an accident and emergency team waiting at the side of the helipad.

Less than an hour after receiving the distress call, the crew from B Flight, 22 Squadron, were airborne and heading back home to their base at Wattisham near Stowmarket.

Flt Lt Ron Jackson, one of the squadron's pilots, said: "We can make the difference between life and death at times. We are here to help.''

Other shouts this year have included being called to the Lowestoft Airshow earlier this month when a Harrier jump jet ditched into the sea in front of shocked spectators.

Crews were also called out to the tragic helicopter crash in the oil fields north east of Yarmouth on July 16 when all 11 people on board a Sikorsky S76 died after the aircraft crashed into the sea.

The Wattisham crews have been called to the Belgian trawler Flamingo which capsized 20 miles off the Essex coast on July 8, with the loss of all four crew members.

The teams have an average of 180 to 200 call outs a year.

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