'We were holding his head out of the water' - Coastguard tells of dramatic rescue of man trapped in rocks
PUBLISHED: 11:35 29 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:48 29 July 2019
Coastguards have described the "chaotic" scramble to save a man's life after he became trapped in rocks on a Norfolk beach.
Emergency responders had to hold the young man's head out of the water as they worked to free his leg, which had become wedged between two boulders on the beach at Sheringham just after 5.30pm today (Sunday, July 28).
HM Coastguard senior coastal operations officer Tony Garbutt, who covers the area stretching from the Wash to Canvey Island, said the injured man, who was in his 20s, had been leaving the beach with his family when one of his children slipped on the rocks.
When he went to rescue the child, he also slipped and his leg became wedged between two boulders.
His friends then called over the lifeguards while protecting him from the waves.
Cromer and Sheringham Coastguard Rescue Teams were sent to the scene at Sheringham, along with Sheringham RNLI Lifeboat, Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service, Norfolk Constabulary and the East of England Ambulance Service.
After the Coastguard arrived at the scene, the child, who was uninjured, and the rest of the man's family were taken to safety.
Mr Garbutt added that, had the tide been incoming, rather than on the ebb, rescuers could have been dealing with a far more serious situation.
"We were having to hold his head out of the water," Mr Garbutt said. "It was slightly chaotic at the beginning as we were trying to save a man's life."
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A Helimed doctor administered drugs at the scene and, after the man was freed, the helicopter was stood down and he was taken by stretcher to an ambulance waiting on the promenade.
As well as a severe gash near his ankle, the man, who was in the water for two-and-a-half hours, sustained other small cuts as well as severe crush bruising to his leg.
Mr Garbutt praised the man for remaining calm.
"Anybody who is trapped like that, their first thought is 'am I going to get out of this', and on top of that he's got one metre waves crashing into his back," he said. "But he was fantastic throughout; he did everything we asked of him, he didn't complain and he was upbeat and happy to be free."
Retired Sheringham Coastguard station manager Stuart Facey was walking his dog in the area when the Coastguard arrived.
"The whole thing escalated then," he explained. "I saw someone obviously stuck in the rocks, it was high tide and water was coming over him so it was a very scary situation."
Mr Facey, who retired in 2011 after 30 years' service, warned people to stay away from the rocks.
"I've seen people climb into the cavities in the rocks and the problem is that even if you are able to move a rock to free someone who is stuck, another can fall into its place; it can be a life or death situation."
Sam Stockdale, senior maritime operations officer from HM Coastguard, said: "It's such good news that this man has been freed.
"We often talk about how training matters between the various frontline responders and today has shown just why it does.
"Everyone worked together on scene to look after the man and also to free him as soon as was practically possible."