Team practices mud rescue emergency

GETTING stuck in sticky and oozing mud must be one of the most frightening experiences possible.

GETTING stuck in sticky and oozing mud must be one of the most frightening experiences possible.

Being sucked down further with nothing to grip to pull yourself free - or facing an incoming rising tide which could swamp you - is a nightmare people might think couldn't happen in Suffolk.

But the tidal shores of rivers such as the Deben and Orwell are treacherous places with soft mud which can catch people out and could prove deadly in some situations.

The Felixstowe Coastguard Rescue Team is called out a handful of times every year to help a person stuck in the mud and so needs to be prepared at all times for that 999.

To keep their training up to date and test their procedures, the team - the only mud rescue unit between Walton-on-the-Naze and Aldeburgh - carried out a live mud rescue at Levington.

Coastguard Luke Rudd said: “We have a great deal of mud in our patch and it is massively important to have such a professional and able coastguard unit to deal with the situation.

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“It is guaranteed that one day we will get a very serious emergency - it has happened at other places around the coast.

“It can be very frightening for the person concerned because there is just no way out.

“Our task is to get them to firm land as fast as possible - even if that sometimes means leaving our mudboards behind.”

With its specialist equipment and expertise, the team can release a person quickly.

A coastguard from Shingle Street acted as victim for the training exercise, getting himself deliberately stuck in the mud.

For the first run, the team dug out the victim, taking about 20 minutes to free him.

On the second exercise, they used a mud lance, similar to a fire extinguisher, sending a jet of water into the mud around him to liquefy it, remove the pressure of the mud and make it more workable. Using this technique they were able to free the man in just five minutes.

The crew uses boards to reach the person and give them firm ground around them as they work, and a special sledge to bring the person to safety.

“It was very cold but it went very well. It is essential we practise these methods because we never know when we will be needed,” said Mr Rudd.

Have you needed the help of the Coastguard? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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