January 6, 2022 10.09 am

Hypothermic man who tried to set fire to jacket to stay warm lucky to be alive after marshland rescue

Police ‘blue lighted’ man to hospital as paramedics faced 170-call backlog

A man who suffered extreme hypothermia, and thought he would die stuck in marshland, tried to set fire to his jacket to keep warm before being rescued by the Cleethorpes Coastguard – after a hero dog walker raised the alarm.

A 57-year-old man had been out on the beach for most of the day at Buck Bench in Cleethorpes. Shortly before sunset he started to make his way back to shore, unfortunately taking a route across the marshland as he did not know how treacherous the area was.

The Coastguard Station at CGOC Humber paged the Cleethorpes team to task them with their first incident of 2022 at 11.02pm on Tuesday, January 4. This came after a call from a dog walker who expressed his concerns about what he believed to be someone calling out for help in the area of the leisure centre.

The team had limited information to set up a search plan and, due to a strong off short wind, the caller could not be sure if he heard someone shouting or if it was just an animal making a noise. So the team split into two, with one starting from the last known location, and the other searching from Leo’s Cafe along the foot/cycle path back toward the leisure centre.

An extensive search on foot and in vehicles out on the beach in the area was carried out. The Coastguard helicopter was also requested to be scrambled to assist searching the marshland.

At 12.28am one of the team thought he heard shouting coming from the marsh so the search was concentrated in that area. After a short while, they could just make out a figure about 300 metres off shore in the middle of the marsh.

A two-person immediate rescue team was deployed and two others got ready in dry suits to back them up to assist with the recovery of the casualty.

The man became disorientated and, due to the weather conditions, he very quickly started to suffer from the effects of the cold night. When the team finally reached him, he was suffering from extreme hypothermia as the temperature was only around two degrees.

He told the team that he had tried to set fire to his jacket to try to keep warm, and on three occasions had laid down because he thought he was going to die out there. It is believed he was on the beach for in excess of 12 hours.

It is believed he was on the beach for in excess of 12 hours. | Photo: Cleethorpes Coastguard

The man was put into one of the coastguard’s vehicles in an attempt to warm him up and an ambulance was requested to have him medically assessed at hospital.

Cleethorpes Coastguard said that unfortunately the ambulance service was extremely busy with more than 170 outstanding incidents all awaiting an ambulance. While the team assessed their options, two police officers drove into the car park on an unrelated incident looking for a missing person, and they agreed to blue light the casualty to the hospital.

In a post on Facebook Cleethorpes Coastguard said: “After searching for an hour and a half, and not locating anyone, we were discussing up dating our ops room re standing down.

“However, on our way back to the station, one of the team suggested stopping in the car park to do one last check. Without a shadow of doubt, if the informant had not called the incident in and our team member suggesting we carry out one last check, we would have been looking at recovering a body this morning.

“This incident has been recorded as a ‘life saved’. If you do go out onto the beach, please ensure you know what the tide times are, come off the beach in plenty of time before you lose the daylight and never attempt to cross the marshland between the leisure centre and Thorpe Park caravan site.

“We wish the casualty a speedy recovery and would like to thank the informant for making the call. You sir, saved a life last night.”

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