Hoylake RNLI hovercraft was tasked by the UK Coastguard at 10.30pm on Saturday 1 June to reports of two people cut off by the incoming tide on rock armour in Leasowe Bay.
The Inshore Rescue Hovercraft Samburgh and her volunteer crew launched within minutes and made their way to the casualties’ reported location just offshore from Leasowe Castle.
Arriving on scene in the darkness, the hovercraft crew searched the rock armour using their searchlights and located the two casualties trapped on the rocks by the high tide. The pair were using a small light to mark their location. The hovercraft manoeuvred carefully towards the rocks and one of Hoylake's volunteer crew members climbed onto them to meet the two casualties.
Once it was established that the pair required no medical attention, they were escorted safely on board the hovercraft and transported across the water to the shoreline. The casualties were passed to waiting members of the Wirral and Flint Coastguard Rescue Teams and Merseyside Police officers for further checks, before the RNLI hovercraft was stood down and returned to station.
Volunteer RNLI hovercraft commander Matt Pownall-Jones said: 'As it got dark on Saturday night, the casualties weren’t aware that the tide had covered the causeway and beach behind them and had trapped them on the rocky island. They could have easily slipped or fallen onto the rocks or into the water.'
'Luckily the casualties were uninjured and we were able to bring them ashore safely. However, more than half of coastal deaths in the UK last year were caused by people tripping and falling into the sea and we would advise against climbing across coastal rocks, especially in the dark. If you’re heading to the beach, it’s important to respect the water and also to check local tide times to avoid getting cut off.'
The incident occurred shortly after Liverpool Football Club’s victory in the Champions League final in Madrid. While the emergency services were on scene, a red parachute flare was seen by the RNLI hovercraft being set off across the water in the New Brighton area. On the safe conclusion of this incident, it was determined by the Coastguard that the flare had been fired as part local celebrations of the football result.
Matt added: 'We cannot emphasise enough that red flares must only be used in an emergency as a distress signal. Other uses of red flares can lead to false alarms for the emergency services and the diversion of vital search and rescue assets from potentially life and death situations.'
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