Nick Knowles presents a rare and challenging rescue for the animal rescue specialists, while the air ambulance team are called out to rescue a 93-year-old golfer.
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Every day, the dedicated crews of the police, fire, ambulance and coast guard respond
to thousands of 999 calls. We're on call with the emergency services,
bringing you all the drama, bravery and commitment
as they work to save us from disaster.
This is Real Rescues.
Tonight, a bottlenose whale thousands of miles off course
sparks a huge rescue operation on the mud flats of the south coast.
The whale has gone over on its side. They're digging a channel to try and right it,
then we'll try and float it out.
Traffic cop Jim Holden deals with the aftermath when a 13-year-old girl steps out into the road.
She literally turned her back, then walked straight out across the road.
And the 18th hole doubles up as a landing pad
after 93-year-old Bill collapses following his weekly game.
He started saying his chest was tight.
He got back into the locker room and collapsed.
The specialist animal unit of Hampshire Fire and Rescue
have the training, equipment and commitment to save animals,
sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances.
If there's hope, they'll fight on for as long as it takes.
In this next rescue, they're pushed to the absolute limit,
working in terrible conditions, trying to save a creature few of them have ever seen - a whale.
It was an event which captured the nation as news bulletins followed every step.
We join the operation after the first sighting of the whale off Hayling Island on the south coast.
It's late July, and a team of animal specialists are heading out to investigate.
The whale, never before seen in these waters, is dangerously off course.
But what it needs to do is come out of the harbour entrance, turn right,
go down the channel into deep water,
then it'll be on a good course back to the Atlantic where it belongs.
After a few turns around with no sight, they get some more bad news.
The whale has headed back up a very shallow channel and almost becomes stranded.
They turn around. Keith Andrews from Marine Life Rescue is on board. They get a sighting.
What's that right down there, then?
What they'd taken to be mud is in fact the whale.
-It just blew just now, so it's...
-Swimming inwards as well.
Swimming inwards? So it's swimming back in this direction.
So we'll head over towards it and we'll try and turn it, so it heads out to sea.
In fact, there it is.
-It's on the surface.
-It's on the surface.
How shallow is it over there, then?
Probably about eight to ten feet of water.
Here it comes. There you go.
Yeah, bottlenose. Without a doubt.
Now they're closer, they can see it's a northern bottlenose whale.
It's almost six metres in length.
They get a good look as it swims under the boat and comes up to blow.
I think he's full-grown.
He's exactly what it describes in the book.
The team want to give the whale every chance of swimming out to sea to safety.
The best thing to do is keep away and keep other boats clear, so it doesn't get too stressed.
There's a whale in the water there. That side. You can see it there.
-Just stay to the left.
We're trying to head off people coming up here now.
The more distressed it gets, the less chance it's got of survival.
The whale is swimming freely, but the tide is coming in and the whale is coming in with it.
For its survival, it needs to be heading out the other way.
It's now gradually moving itself back up in towards Langstone Harbour. It's not a good move.
The experts are worried about stressing the whale.
Being on the boat is not helping, so they return to shore.
They'll monitor its progress from land and decide what can be done to get it back to safety.
It's been a pleasure to see the whale,
but I wish we hadn't been called out. I get a bit tearful.
The best-case scenario is it turns on its own tail and swims out.
That's all you can hope for.
What is the other end of the spectrum?
We won't go there, shall we? Not at the moment.
It's still hopeful.
As the daylight fades, the rescuers can only hope that by the next morning,
the whale will have found its way out of the harbour and back to its feeding grounds in the Atlantic.
Remember the Green Cross Code or Tufty the Squirrel? "Look left, look right, look left again"?
You'd better had. A moment's inattention could mean hospital.
Traffic cop Jim Holden's just started on a late shift and he's been given his first job.
It doesn't sound good.
It's the sort of shout any policeman hurries to.
It's a fair old distance to the scene, and more information comes in while Jim is on his way.
Jim reaches the scene,
and all the evidence suggests a really serious incident.
-'Thank you. Confirmed.'
-Cor, this looks nasty.
As Jim arrives, the paramedics are getting the 13-year-old schoolgirl, Emma, into the ambulance.
'It was evidently a nasty impact.
'The car was badly damaged. The windscreen was completely caved in and shattered.'
And there was a dent on the car where it had hit her.
There's even some of the schoolgirl's hair caught in the smashed glass.
Local copper Ellie Herd brings Jim up to date.
She's with the driver of the car.
-This is the driver. This is Mr Mark Bowditch. I'm waiting for his details to come back.
-The bus driver was also a witness.
-Fantastic. Is that it for witnesses?
-I believe so, but I haven't talked to the neighbours.
-Done the breath test?
-Not as yet.
-If you come this way...
-I've got to breathalyse you. Everyone in RTIs gets it.
It's just procedure. I'm not suggesting you've had a drink, but we've got to do it.
What actually happened?
Mark is understandably very shaken up.
'I was coming to pick up my son.'
Literally, I saw the girl on her own, walking towards me.
She turned around and bolted straight across in front of me.
I just slammed the brakes on, heard this almighty crash and from there I jumped out of the car.
The best thing was she was actually conscious.
But, obviously, blood on her forehead and everything else...I panicked. I just didn't know what to do.
You think, "What have I done?! What have you done?!"
-Do you know the speed involved?
-I was doing about 30, if that.
-I just came down there.
-We just need to know...
Emma was conscious when she was carried to the ambulance,
but until they know how bad her injuries are,
Jim has to keep the location exactly as it was at the time of the accident.
Can I just move everyone down here a bit further? We'll tape it off.
Do you want to sit in my car? Would that be...? Yeah?
If Emma's injuries are life-threatening, the police may have to treat it like a crime scene.
Jim grabs his camera to record the scene as evidence.
-That's her shoe there.
-He spots one of Emma's shoes under the car.
There's another some way away on the grass.
With the ambulance now on its way to hospital, Jim and his colleagues can only wait
until they know how bad her injuries really are.
When people are taken off by ambulance, it can be quite a while before you know their condition.
In the meantime, you get on with it.
'You've got work to do, witnesses to speak to,'
but you are constantly waiting for that call to say how that person is.
In the meantime, Jim needs to get a full statement from Mark.
I know I've asked you briefly, but for the benefit of my notebook, what happened?
I was going down Forest Road...
Immediately, you think you've done something wrong.
And you feel that you're the guilty party, in effect,
because that's the way it's got to be investigated.
You're the one behind the wheel, in the killing machine.
In terms of this investigation
we'll decide whether or not you were at fault, as with any accident.
We just look at it, decide if there's been any fault.
The chances are she stepped out without looking.
I doubt very much there will be anything coming back onto you,
but we'll see what happens.
What the witnesses said about it,
there was nothing I could do,
but you don't feel any better. The paramedics took her away
and all said it was life-threatening, that's all I had,
for three or four hours,
knowing that the possibility that child would die because of my car.
Everything still depends on Emma. Jim can't clear the scene, but he can at least let Mark get home.
Mark, we're all done. You can head off now.
I'll give you a call later to let you know how she is.
It's me who'll be dealing with it. I'll call later on and let you know how she is.
I'll update you on everything. You OK?
-Need a cup of tea.
-Something a bit stronger later, maybe.
I don't drink during the week.
No, no, all right, then. I'll give you a call later on.
Soon after, the call from the hospital with an update.
'There are several grazings over her body. She's conscious, breathing on her own
'and talking as if nothing happened to her.'
Can I confirm, there's no significant head or brain injury?
'That is confirmed. That is confirmed.'
So, amazingly, despite that massive dent in the windscreen,
it seems young Emma's survived comparatively unscathed.
It was the biggest weight off my shoulders that I could imagine.
The fact that she was all right and it wasn't life-threatening.
'She can go back to school and everything else, to a normal life.'
But hopefully will have learned something out of it.
It was a fantastic weight off my shoulders.
With Emma out of danger and a full picture now emerging,
Jim can clear the scene. Later in the programme,
we'll hear from Emma and find out how she's progressing.
It's early in the morning, and the Animal Rescue Unit
have been called out for a second time by British Divers and Marine Life Rescue.
Yesterday, they had their first sighting of a northern bottlenose whale
in trouble, swimming off the Hampshire coast.
The fact that Jim Green and his men are needed means only one thing.
The whale is stranded now.
And the British Divers and Marine Life Rescue
want access to the whale so they can assess it.
See what its condition is.
Jim's heading to Hayling Island near Portsmouth where his colleages
have already scrambled three fire crews.
All right. Get yourself suited in a second
then we'll go and make an assessment.
The 18-foot-whale is beached on the mud flats.
It's still alive, but it's now a battle against time to save the animal.
A battle to be fought in the toughest conditions,
hot weather and deep mud.
The Fire Service is doing all they can to keep the whale cool by spraying it with water.
If they keep walking in and out here all morning...
The mud flats are potentially treacherous to work on.
There we go then.
So the first thing Jim has to do is sort out a safe surface.
They use large inflatable pathways designed specifically for rescues in conditions like these.
You get people from different organisations and volunteers, so you need a level of co-ordination.
Our role here, as well as support, is also a co-ordination role.
Can you get that out to him?
Now the walkway is in place, the rescuers can get all the equipment they need whaleside.
They have covered the animal in linen sheets to keep the skin wet.
Anton stays in contact with Jim, telling him exactly what's required.
The whale has gone over on its side. They're now digging a channel to try and right it,
then we'll try and float it out.
We'll get a big firefighting jet out there,
from this river over here, and blast the channel to get it out.
The rescuers have to work quickly.
It's 8.30 in the morning and the experts know they have only a couple of hours to right the whale.
The biggest problem we've got with large cetaceans
is that if they're on a hard surface for a long period of time,
it starts crushing their internal organs,
so we've only got two hours to get this animal into deeper water.
If we can't do that, it can't be re-floated.
-What will happen then?
-It will have to be put to sleep. Its internal organs will be crushed beyond repair.
This is an almighty task, requiring superhuman strength.
It's hard enough to move in the mud, let alone shift five tons of whale.
We're trying to liquefy the mud around its belly, so it can roll into an upright position,
but the water is building up around the animal and could cause it to drown if we're not careful.
So we'll try and get rid of that water to stop that from happening.
The vet needs to take some blood samples from the whale.
The tide has started to come in, but the whale hasn't righted itself.
They try putting strops under the animal and pontoons round it to help lift the whale free from the mud.
It's extraordinary what lengths the men are going to,
but as long as it can survive, they'll keep working.
When you're working in mud, there's suction on your feet, on your legs.
Slipping and sliding all over the place becomes very tiring.
But we wouldn't give up until the very last minute.
All eyes are focused on the fight for life in the mud flats,
everyone willing the rescuers to pull off this Herculean task.
The tide is coming in very quickly.
The tide's racing in.
We've got a channel through, but we haven't got the time to right the whale now.
It's just coming in too fast. We had a time limit.
They've worked their backsides off out there.
We've got to the point where we've had to make a safety call
because we cannot be disconnected from the shore at any time.
The experts from Marine Life Rescue stay around the whale as the fire crews retreat back to shore.
The whole country looks on to see if this bottlenose can free itself.
We'll be with the rescuers as the tide comes in.
The Great North Air Ambulance has been scrambled.
On board are pilot Captain Andy Figg and air crew paramedics Tom Grantham and Paul Scott.
They've been called to a golf course in County Durham.
A 93-year-old man has collapsed after playing nine holes.
We'll jump out and examine the patient
and decide which is the best hospital to care for the gentleman.
Once there, they land on the 18th hole of the golf course itself.
Bill the golfer is already being cared for in the land ambulance.
They need to know what caused the collapse, so he'll have to go to hospital to be checked out.
It will be quicker to take him by air to a trauma unit nearer his home 45 miles away in Saltburn.
-Could I ask you to take that? Are you driving back to Saltburn?
-I'll take it then.
-He goes on the train.
My colleagues will wheel him across to the aircraft,
then he'll ride in our helicopter. OK?
Bill regularly does a 90-mile round trip to play golf here with his friend John Armen.
Bill, we'll put you on to our stretcher,
then lift you on to our helicopter.
Bring your legs round for us, mate.
He's been playing here for 45 years.
It's been lovely and warm.
before he started to play, he had a heavy cold.
He then started saying his chest was tight.
Got back into the locker room and collapsed.
It has been a shock for John to see his golfing partner so ill.
But he's optimistic that Bill will be back to tee off again soon.
He's marvellous. To be able to play golf at 93 is a wonderful thing.
With a bit of luck, he'll be out next Tuesday.
Once on board, Paul checks Bill's blood pressure and pulse rate.
-All right there?
He discovers that Bill's blood pressure is a bit low.
Paul decides to prepare Bill for any intravenous medicines he may need.
This is just some salty water going through,
just in case I need to give you a drug quickly in flight.
His BP was 90 over 60.
IV access, O2. He's got a pulse of 65, O2 sats of 100. I'm quite happy with that.
The team prepare to take off.
We'll put you on some headphones. If you've got a problem, tap me.
The crew don't waste any time getting airborne again.
It'll take just ten minutes' flying time to get Bill to hospital.
Paul will be sitting beside him to monitor his condition.
His bp was fairly low.
We need to know if there's anything internal happening for his bp to drop.
It may be just a slight faint.
We'll monitor him en route.
He's fairly comfortable, I think he's enjoying the flight.
The minute they touch down on the helipad, Bill is out and on the hospital trolley.
The paramedics hand over to A&E Sister Sarah Newton.
-All right? And his daughter's been informed. He's got his false teeth in his bag.
With a successful handover, Paul and Tom can get back to base.
Bill quite enjoyed his flight in the helicopter. He's an experienced air passenger.
I've been on the...
the old Lancasters.
Lysanders. All the old ones.
Bill will now get all the checks he needs to get to the bottom of what caused that collapse.
Hopefully, it's nothing serious. He'll get all the blood tests and scans and things.
I'm sure he'll recover for another game of golf.
We'll find out if he does make it back to the greens.
Back at Hayling Island near Portsmouth on the south coast,
the desperate attempt to save a stranded bottlenose whale continues.
The whale, which weighs around five tons, beached on the mud flats overnight.
15 firefighters led by Hampshire Animal Rescue specialists and British Marine Life Rescue
have worked for four hours clearing its blowhole and creating a way out.
Attempts to get the animal on to an inflatable pontoon have been beaten by the tide which is now almost in.
A small crew has stayed by the juvenile male, hoping it will find the strength to swim free.
We probably stand about a 40/60% chance of getting this animal back out to sea.
That's a 40% chance which isn't very high.
With the water around it, it suddenly tries to right itself.
The creature appears to be heading for open water.
SHOUTS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
The rescue kayaks do all they can to encourage the animal to keep on course.
But once again, it starts heading back towards the mud flats.
She's constantly rolling on to her right side and it's the right side she was stuck on.
So we are very concerned for her welfare.
And there is some more bad news. The results of the blood test confirm their worst fears.
We've got a very sick whale. It's very clear. The results are very definitive.
The animal is in a poor condition - kidney failure, muscle damage, anaemia and dehydration.
And so euthanasia is the only way forward.
We don't really know why this animal is where it is.
It has become separated from other bottlenose whales in the deep ocean.
We don't know why that separation has occurred.
Is it a sick animal, was it sick to begin with?
We'll investigate these things on the post-mortem examination.
We cannot rescue it. Euthanasia is the only humane option.
Now all they can do is wait until the whale strands again before they can perform the final humane act.
The whole team were very disappointed we didn't get a result,
generally we do get a good result. But we gave it a good go.
I feel extremely privileged to have been able to be on a whale rescue attempt.
It is so unusual to be there, to be right up close to it,
to actually look and marvel at the size of this animal,
but to give it the best chance to get back to its own environment.
Let's catch up with some of the other rescues we've featured on tonight's programme.
13-year-old Emma, who was knocked down by a car, has fully recovered,
but seven weeks after the accident, she still only remembers a fraction.
I don't remember getting hit or anything. I just remember lying on the floor.
It's a day mum Jane will never forget.
Emma's friend knocked on the door and said Emma had been hit by a car and gone through the windscreen.
So I ran down the road and she was just coming round.
She said to me, "What's happened? Have I died?" I said, "No, you're fine." But it was such a shock.
Every parent's worst nightmare.
Amazingly, Emma had no serious injuries.
I thought I was really lucky because I didn't have anything wrong. I only had cuts and bruises.
Emma's learned an important lesson.
I think it's made her more aware to take more care crossing the road.
Look once, look twice, look again.
And it's good news for Bill Reed, the 93-year-old golfer
who was whisked to hospital after a fainting spell.
He was in hospital for three hours of checks when he had some good news.
The doctor told me that I was able to go home and the last thing he said to me,
"Keep carrying on playing golf."
So I was very pleased to hear that.
So how long is Bill hoping to keep playing for?
I'm 93 now and for another 20 years I suppose I shall be playing golf!
-Good day's work.
As for the northern bottlenose whale which stranded on the mud flats of Hayling Island,
it was humanely put down once it beached again.
The post-mortem revealed it had kidney failure. Experts believe it was caused by dehydration.
It probably wasn't eating for several days.
They get all their fluid from the food they eat. They don't drink.
So if they're not eating, they dehydrate and this,
as we know in humans, can cause disorientation
and they have difficulty navigating.
That's probably why the animal was in such a difficult location.
The experts have learnt a lot for future rescues.
This whale didn't make it,
but experts believe there is reason to be optimistic.
The number of strandings we're being informed of is definitely increasing,
probably as a result of the population levels increasing, which is a good sign.
I really hope that after the whaling that's gone on around Europe
that we're now looking at the population levels starting to return to what they used to be.
Every time you hear a siren it means our emergency services
are on their way to help someone in distress.
Join me again next time for more Real Rescues.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Nick Knowles presents a rare and challenging rescue for the animal rescue specialists. A bottlenose whale is dangerously off course, and the rescuers have only a few hours to save its life. Also, the air ambulance team discovers the secrets of a long life when they are called to the 18th hole to rescue a 93-year-old golfer.