Rescue helicopter winchman pulls victim from frothy seas

Last weekend, the Royal Coastguard executed a daring helicopter rescue off Northcott Mouth in Bude, England. Local Coastguard rescue teams were alerted of a person stuck on the rocks whom had been cut off by the tide and another person in the water, who had attempted a rescue. The Bude Police, the Bude Coastguard Rescue Team, a Bude Lifeboat, and Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 924 were dispatched to the scene. However, enroute the Lifeboat had an engine failure, leaving the land based response and the Coast Guard Helicopter.

Upon arrival the Bude Coastguard team became concerned for the person stuck on the rocks as they could see the person was being battered by waves. Two additional people were stuck below the cliffs after climbing down to attempt to rescue the person on the rocks.

Coastguard Winch Operator Ginge Steabler said, of the rescue, “This was a challenging rescue for a number of reasons: firstly the worrying picture of how many people were involved and their location; the close proximity of the casualties to the cliff; the weather with an offshore wind blowing directly onto the cliff, large waves, messy surf and peaking high tide.”

It was determined that the best rescue would be from the Sikorsky R-92 Coastguard Rescue Helicopter. Mark 'Spike' Hughes, the winchman, was quickly lowered to the person who had been trapped on the rocks, who was now in the water. Just before reaching the person in the water, Hughes was hit by a large wave. He quickly recovered but was hit by a second wave just as placing the rescue strop around the victim, sweeping both of them into the sea. They were quickly winched out of the water when Hughes realized that the strop was only around the victims arm and instructed they be brought to the nearby beach. From there, all three were lifted into the Rescue Helicopter, where two of the victims were taken to the Derriford hospital as they were suffering from mild hypothermia.