Family stuck on island sees 16 first responders called to help

The RNLI rescue hovercraft, based at Hunstanton. Picture: Clifford Hicks

The RNLI rescue hovercraft, based at Hunstanton. Picture: Clifford Hicks - Credit: Archant

Three different rescue crews were called in after a trio of visitors became stranded on a tidal island.

Scolt Head Island from the air. Picture: Mike Page

Scolt Head Island from the air. Picture: Mike Page - Credit: Archant

But in the end the visitors were brought to safety in a time-honoured manner - by hitching a ride on an incoming fishing boat.

As reported, the three members of the same family found themselves stuck on Scolt Head Island just off Brancaster.

It happened on Wednesday just after 2.30pm - Scolt Head can be walked to when the tide is out, but people have regularly been stranded there when the tide comes in.

A total of 16 first responders came to their aid, including the Hunstanton Lifeboat hovercraft crew consisting of a pilot, commander and two others and Coastguard teams who travelled by land from Hunstanton and Wells.

In other rescues, the RNLI would bring those stranded safely to shore where the Coastguard crews - who are first-aiders - or ambulance paramedics would see to them.

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But Geoff Needham of Hunstanton RNLI said their team was not required in this case because the fishing boat was able to get to them sooner - a situation which occurred regularly in years gone by.

He said: “A lot of people who used to get cut off would be brought in by the returning fishing boats, but it doesn’t happen as much any more, because the fishing fleet isn’t so big.

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“The number of frontline people who get involved in an incident can be a lot more - depending on the nature of the incident.”

Mr Needham said the hovercraft crew was called to another incident as it was returning to base, but this situation was also dealt with before they needed to act.

He said: “A child got separated from its family on Old Hunstanton beach, but that child was found by another member of the public and the crew could stand down.”

Mr Needham said the coronavirus pandemic had made sea rescues more complicated, because social distancing was “impossible” and equipment had to be washed and disinfected after each deployment.

In case of an emergency on the coast, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard.

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