The charities lifeboat took part in a multi-agency mud rescue today alongside other emergency services (Friday 9 September).
With London Coastguard co-ordinating, this involved Kent Fire and Rescue, South East Coast Ambulance Hazardous Area Response Team, The Port of London Authority, Essex Police Marine and the Border Force RIB.
Being an Exercise lifeboat crews and KFRS personnel were the casualties including a RNLI Dead Fred Dummy all were wearing dry suits and their personal protection equipment (PPE)
The scenario unfolds after three people are seen in the mud at North Star Boulevard, Greenhithe, Kent by a couple walking their dog. The casualties are trapped in the mud and unable to get out and are shouting for help.
The couple dial 999 and ask for the coastguard. The coastguard requests Kent Fire and Rescue to attend and then requests the launch of Gravesend lifeboat. Hearing this over the marine VHF radio the PLA Harbour Launch, Essex marine police and the border force RIB all advise the coastguard that they are able to attend and offer assistance.
Once on scene the lifeboat talks to one of the casualties trying to gain more information as to how they became stuck in the mud. Kent fire and rescue (KFRS) also arrive land side with four fire engines from Thames-side, Dartford, Swanscombe, Ash-cum-Ridley along with Larkfield’s Water Safety Unit, who specialise in rescues from water and unstable surfaces where they start to also ask one of the other casualties how they have become stuck in the mud.
Having been stuck in the mud for some time, they are cold and in need of medical attention. The South East Coast Ambulance Hazardous Area Response Team (HART) who work alongside their South East Coast Ambulance (SECAmb) colleagues and fellow emergency services to provide additional life-saving support, triage and treatment at the scene of hazardous incidents are requested and arrive on-scene.
After talking to the casualties it transpires that they were all on a boat and it hit a submerged object and sunk. All wearing lifejackets they were able to make it to the mud as the tide was going out. When asked if there is only three of them they say no there are four of us. With a person missing this information is passed to the coastguard who co-ordinates with the PLA, Essex Police Marine and the Border Force RIB a search of the area for the missing person shore side.
The RNLI, KFRS and the HART team use water safety equipment, mud rescue platforms, and special rescue equipment to get to the casualties in the mud.
(KFRS) launch its drone to provide incident commanders on the ground with an overview of the situation from the sky. Also using its thermal imaging to try to locate the missing person.
All four casualties will be brought safely ashore and handed into the care of (SECAmb) and (HART) teams.
Jason Carroll, Gravesend RNLI Station Manager, said: ‘The exercise at Greenhithe was an excellent example of how we work with other emergency services and authorities. Conducting exercises like this lets us put our policies and procedures into practice and after have a structured debrief to highlight any learning outcomes.’
‘We are committed to exercising regularly with our key stakeholders to ensure we deliver a top quality search and rescue service and to service the needs of our community.’
From the attacks that happened in Central London just over 10 years ago it was established that communications between the emergency services could be improved and as a result Airwave radio network was created to support communication between each emergency service.
Airwave was used on this exercise and proved invaluable in gaining strategic information from each asset as the incident unfolded.
Notes to editors
Gravesend is one of four lifeboat stations on the River Thames that are operated by the RNLI. Gravesend Lifeboat covers an area from Holehaven, at the western end of Canvey Island, to the Thames Flood Barrier at Woolwich, a distance of 26 miles. A patch which covers Kent, Essex and South London.
RNLI media contacts
- Alan Carr, Gravesend RNLI Volunteer Lifeboat Press Officer
07775 822584, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Tim Ash, RNLI Public Relations Manager (London/East/South East)
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Key facts about the RNLI
The Royal National Lifeboat Institution is the charity that saves lives at sea. Our volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service in the United Kingdom and Ireland from 238 lifeboat stations, including four along the River Thames and inland lifeboat stations at Loch Ness, Lough Derg, Enniskillen and Lough Ree. Additionally the RNLI has more than 1,000 lifeguards on over 240 beaches around the UK and operates a specialist flood rescue team, which can respond anywhere across the UK and Ireland when inland flooding puts lives at risk.
The RNLI relies on public donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. As a charity it is separate from, but works alongside, government-controlled and funded coastguard services. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824 our lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved at least 140,000 lives. Volunteers make up 95% of the charity, including 4,600 volunteer lifeboat crew members and 3,000 volunteer shore crew. Additionally, tens of thousands of other dedicated volunteers raise funds and awareness, give safety advice, and help in our museums, shops and offices.
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The RNLI is a charity registered in England and Wales (209603) and Scotland (SC037736). Charity number 20003326 in the Republic of Ireland