Emercency services carry out rescue exercise on Lowestoft beach

Emercency services battle to retrieve the dummies buried below the sand as part of the hole collapse

Emercency services battle to retrieve the dummies buried below the sand as part of the hole collapse exercise. Photo: James Carr. - Credit: Archant

Emergency services came together to take part in a sand hole collapse exercise on Lowestoft beach in preparation for the busy summer ahead.

The public watch at emercengy services carry carry out a sand collapse exercise in Lowestoft. Photo:

The public watch at emercengy services carry carry out a sand collapse exercise in Lowestoft. Photo: James Carr - Credit: Archant

With the number of reported sand hole collapses on the rise, the exercise aimed to ensure all first responders know the correct procedure when attending incidents.

HM Coastguard Lowestoft and Southwold, Suffolk Fire and Rescue, Suffolk Police and RNLI Beach Lifeguards Waveney were among the teams present at South Beach on Tuesday, July 18, battling to locate and excavate dummies buried in the sand.

Liz Hustler, senior coastal operations officer for HM Coastguard Lowestoft and Southwold, said: 'This is an incredibly important exercise as there have been a number of deaths and near misses in the UK from sand holes collapses in recent years.

'People don't appreciate the danger – as they dig deeper the sides of the hole becomes weaker.'

Emercency services battle to retrieve the dummies buried below the sand as part of the hole collapse

Emercency services battle to retrieve the dummies buried below the sand as part of the hole collapse exercise. Photo: James Carr. - Credit: Archant


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Sand hole collapse is caused when the sand is unable to support itself and is dependant of factors including depth of the hole and moisture in the sand. Wet sand is more likely to hold shape while dry sand will collapse in on itself.

The rescue methods are simple but labour intensive and therefore response is likely to involve both the public and emergency responders.

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Paul Field, north district commander of Suffolk Fire and Rescue, said: 'With summer already here and the school holidays beginning this is a perfect time for this valuable exercise.

'With national incidents rising multi-agency operations must come together in a co-ordinated fashion.'

Emercency services battle to retrieve the dummies buried below the sand as part of the hole collapse

Emercency services battle to retrieve the dummies buried below the sand as part of the hole collapse exercise. Photo: James Carr. - Credit: Archant

Whilst the services gave warning of the dangers of digging deep holes they do not forbid it entirely.

David Burwood, coastal rescue officer for Lowestoft and Southwold, said: 'We are not trying to stop people coming to the beach and digging sand holes – we really want people to do that.

'But when you start using gardening tools and get potentially 6ft down it starts to become a danger with a potential risk of entrapment.

'If it has taken potentially three hours to dig a hole 6ft down, how long could it take a rescuer to get down to you?'

Emergency services rescue a dummy buried to in the sand as part of a sand hole collapse exercise. Ph

Emergency services rescue a dummy buried to in the sand as part of a sand hole collapse exercise. Photo: James Carr - Credit: Archant

For more information on how to stay safe at the beach visit: www.gov.uk/coastguardsafety

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