A DEVON Air Ambulance crew put their skills to the test after landing on a small strip of beach in a bid save the life of a 45-year-old man who had gone into cardiac arrest.
The incident happened at Eastcliff in Teignmouth on New Year's Day where hundreds of people were enjoying a walk.
Members of Teignmouth Lifesaving Club, who had just finished their first training session of the year, were first on the scene just before midday.
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"We believe he was out walking with his wife when he suffered heart problems on the beach. A member of the public came into my cafe nearby and I alerted the team," said Iain Palmer, president of club.
"Members used first aid equipment and helped the casualty until the paramedics arrived. We administered CPR and had the oxygen to help stabilise him.
"We really hope our knowledge has helped save this man's life.
"The air ambulance was called out and the top part of the sea wall had to be closed off. It was a real spectacle to see the helicopter land. Around 1,000 people watched the rescue."
Police and ambulance crews also attended along with the coastguards.
"We made sure the beach was clear for the air ambulance to land assisted them in every way we could," said a spokesman for Brixham coastguard.
"This rescue shows great team work and how the services all work together."
Captain Rob Mackie, Senior Pilot of Devon Air Ambulance said “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 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 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.”
The man, thought to be from Basingstoke, Hampshire, was flown to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.