Paramedic tells how he saved girl from Norfolk beach cave-in
A paramedic last night told of his frantic fight to save a teenage girl who was buried alive when a wall of sand collapsed on top of her while she was playing on the beach at Caister, near Great Yarmouth.
Mark Little, of the East of England Ambulance Service, desperately dug through more than five feet of compacted sand to reach the 15-year-old girl, who was trapped beneath the surface for 15 minutes.
The teenager, who is believed to be on holiday with her father and siblings from Kent, was blue in the face and unconscious when they discovered her at approximately 3.15pm.
But thanks to the heroic efforts of Mr Little, who cleared her mouth of sand and resuscitated her, she was breathing by the time she was air lifted to the James Paget University Hospital by the RAF Sea King helicopter.
Mr Little, 38, of Lingwood, near Norwich, said he was met by panic when he reached the scene.
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'When I arrived all I could see was this group of people acting frantically,' he said. 'All I could do was to start digging, and by the time the fire service and police had arrived 10 minutes later we found her head.
'I immediately realised that she was not breathing and was completely blue. I initially thought the worst, but I got more sand out of her airways and she took the most enormous gasp of air I have ever heard.
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'And at that moment, I had never felt more relieved in all my life because I genuinely thought that I would be dealing with a fatality.
'I travelled with her in the helicopter to the James Paget and by the time I left her she was conscious and making good progress.'
The girl is belived to have become trapped at 3.05pm when a 6ft hole on the beach collapsed and was freed 20 minutes later.
Local people and holidaymakers were the first to rush to her aid, with one youngster dashing back to his home to retrieve three spades.
Mr Little was the first person from the emergency services to arrive on the scene, before being joined by the police, the fire brigade, an ambulance team, and the RAF Sea King helicopter.
He discovered the girl face down in the sand; a position which potentially saved her life because it prevented more sand from entering her airways.
Brian Edmonds, 17, who lives nearby on Beach Road, Caister, was praised by police for helping to save the girl.
He said: 'It seemed like they were digging for about 25 to 30 minutes, but they just kept going until we managed to get her out.'
Inspector Nick Cheshire of Norfolk Constabulary thanked the public for helping the emergency services, but also warned people of the dangers of playing on the beach.
He said: 'We want people to enjoy the beach, but you must be careful when playing in the sand because it has the potential to be dangerous.'
Jonathan Wilby, Norfolk Fire Service station master at Great Yarmouth, believed the communication and teamwork between the emergency services helped save the girl's life.
He said: 'The rescue was a multi-agency effort between the four services who worked together to bring the girl to safety.'
Three young children were saved from 8ft deep hole on Gorleston beach in 2004 when the sides began to cave in.
Two boys nearly died in 1997 when they became trapped in a hole on Great Yarmouth beach and had difficulty breathing.