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Challenging Landing - 1 January 2013

Teignmouth Beach

Teignmouth Beach – 1 January 2013 by Nicola Courtier

The first day of the year was a relatively busy one for Devon’s Air Ambulances, with three jobs in total.

At 1139 hours our Exeter based helicopter was called to Teignmouth beach to an adult male with a suspected cardiac arrest.  The helicopter was allocated just 2 minutes after the 999  call was received!

Flying that day Senior Base Pilot,  Captain Rob Mackie.  This job shows just some of the challenges that the crew face on a daily basis.  Here’s Rob…

“On approach to Teignmouth beach, I could see there were several hundred people on the beach, enjoying the nice weather. This obviously makes my job more challenging as I, along with my fellow crew members, was at this stage surveying the area, looking for the safest and most appropriate place to land.”

He added “Because of the number of people, children and dogs loose on the beach, it was difficult trying to find a suitable landing site. The unfortunate part about the Air Ambulance is that it draws in a crowd; people on the ground are busy looking at what is happening and the helicopter, and they forget why we are there and that we need the space to land safely. Safety is paramount – it’s not only the safety of the people on the ground but also the well being of my crew.

“A Police officer had managed to clear a small area of beach by the sea wall, which allowed me to touch down briefly on the tide line, allowing Helen and Richard, our two paramedics, to get out of the aircraft with rotors still running. Once they were out of the helicopter and clear I then took off again.”

“Shortly afterwards Life Saving/Surf Rescue took control of the site, joined by the Police, and cleared an area towards the pier. Whereas we often land in car parks, or in Teignmouth on The Den itself, on this occasion due to the number of spectators and vehicles, it was not possible. I would make a plea that if anyone sees the Air Ambulance trying to land to stand well back, keep hold of small children and put dogs on leads. This helps us greatly.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone at Life Saving/Surf Rescue,the Police, Coastguard and South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust ambulance personnel on the ground, who all worked tirelessly together. Our primary aim is to get to the patient as quickly and safely as possible and we very much hope that the patient makes a good recovery.”

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