Episode 8 Real Rescues


Episode 8

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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Transcript


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Every day, the dedicated crews of the police, fire, ambulance and coast guard respond

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to thousands of 999 calls. We're on call with the emergency services,

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bringing you all the drama, bravery and commitment

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as they work to save us from disaster.

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This is Real Rescues.

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Tonight, a bottlenose whale thousands of miles off course

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sparks a huge rescue operation on the mud flats of the south coast.

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The whale has gone over on its side. They're digging a channel to try and right it,

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then we'll try and float it out.

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Traffic cop Jim Holden deals with the aftermath when a 13-year-old girl steps out into the road.

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She literally turned her back, then walked straight out across the road.

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And the 18th hole doubles up as a landing pad

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after 93-year-old Bill collapses following his weekly game.

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He started saying his chest was tight.

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He got back into the locker room and collapsed.

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The specialist animal unit of Hampshire Fire and Rescue

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have the training, equipment and commitment to save animals,

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sometimes in the most difficult of circumstances.

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If there's hope, they'll fight on for as long as it takes.

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In this next rescue, they're pushed to the absolute limit,

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working in terrible conditions, trying to save a creature few of them have ever seen - a whale.

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It was an event which captured the nation as news bulletins followed every step.

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We join the operation after the first sighting of the whale off Hayling Island on the south coast.

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It's late July, and a team of animal specialists are heading out to investigate.

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The whale, never before seen in these waters, is dangerously off course.

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But what it needs to do is come out of the harbour entrance, turn right,

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go down the channel into deep water,

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then it'll be on a good course back to the Atlantic where it belongs.

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After a few turns around with no sight, they get some more bad news.

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The whale has headed back up a very shallow channel and almost becomes stranded.

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They turn around. Keith Andrews from Marine Life Rescue is on board. They get a sighting.

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What's that right down there, then?

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-That's it.

-That's it.

-Yeah.

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What they'd taken to be mud is in fact the whale.

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-It just blew just now, so it's...

-Swimming inwards as well.

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Swimming inwards? So it's swimming back in this direction.

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So we'll head over towards it and we'll try and turn it, so it heads out to sea.

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In fact, there it is.

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-It's on the surface.

-It's on the surface.

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How shallow is it over there, then?

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Probably about eight to ten feet of water.

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Here it comes. There you go.

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Yeah, bottlenose. Without a doubt.

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Now they're closer, they can see it's a northern bottlenose whale.

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It's almost six metres in length.

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They get a good look as it swims under the boat and comes up to blow.

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I think he's full-grown.

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He's exactly what it describes in the book.

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The team want to give the whale every chance of swimming out to sea to safety.

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The best thing to do is keep away and keep other boats clear, so it doesn't get too stressed.

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There's a whale in the water there. That side. You can see it there.

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-Just stay to the left.

-Cheers, mate.

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We're trying to head off people coming up here now.

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The more distressed it gets, the less chance it's got of survival.

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The whale is swimming freely, but the tide is coming in and the whale is coming in with it.

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For its survival, it needs to be heading out the other way.

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It's now gradually moving itself back up in towards Langstone Harbour. It's not a good move.

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The experts are worried about stressing the whale.

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Being on the boat is not helping, so they return to shore.

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They'll monitor its progress from land and decide what can be done to get it back to safety.

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It's been a pleasure to see the whale,

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but I wish we hadn't been called out. I get a bit tearful.

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The best-case scenario is it turns on its own tail and swims out.

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That's all you can hope for.

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What is the other end of the spectrum?

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We won't go there, shall we? Not at the moment.

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It's still hopeful.

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As the daylight fades, the rescuers can only hope that by the next morning,

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the whale will have found its way out of the harbour and back to its feeding grounds in the Atlantic.

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Remember the Green Cross Code or Tufty the Squirrel? "Look left, look right, look left again"?

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You'd better had. A moment's inattention could mean hospital.

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Traffic cop Jim Holden's just started on a late shift and he's been given his first job.

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It doesn't sound good.

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It's the sort of shout any policeman hurries to.

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It's a fair old distance to the scene, and more information comes in while Jim is on his way.

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Jim reaches the scene,

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and all the evidence suggests a really serious incident.

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OK, three-zero.

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-'Thank you. Confirmed.'

-Cor, this looks nasty.

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As Jim arrives, the paramedics are getting the 13-year-old schoolgirl, Emma, into the ambulance.

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'It was evidently a nasty impact.

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'The car was badly damaged. The windscreen was completely caved in and shattered.'

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And there was a dent on the car where it had hit her.

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There's even some of the schoolgirl's hair caught in the smashed glass.

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Local copper Ellie Herd brings Jim up to date.

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She's with the driver of the car.

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-This is the driver. This is Mr Mark Bowditch. I'm waiting for his details to come back.

-Lovely.

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-The bus driver was also a witness.

-Fantastic. Is that it for witnesses?

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-I believe so, but I haven't talked to the neighbours.

-Done the breath test?

-Not as yet.

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-If you come this way...

-Mark.

-I've got to breathalyse you. Everyone in RTIs gets it.

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It's just procedure. I'm not suggesting you've had a drink, but we've got to do it.

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What actually happened?

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Mark is understandably very shaken up.

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'I was coming to pick up my son.'

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Literally, I saw the girl on her own, walking towards me.

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She turned around and bolted straight across in front of me.

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I just slammed the brakes on, heard this almighty crash and from there I jumped out of the car.

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The best thing was she was actually conscious.

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But, obviously, blood on her forehead and everything else...I panicked. I just didn't know what to do.

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You think, "What have I done?! What have you done?!"

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-Do you know the speed involved?

-I was doing about 30, if that.

-OK.

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-I just came down there.

-We just need to know...

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Emma was conscious when she was carried to the ambulance,

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but until they know how bad her injuries are,

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Jim has to keep the location exactly as it was at the time of the accident.

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Can I just move everyone down here a bit further? We'll tape it off.

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Do you want to sit in my car? Would that be...? Yeah?

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If Emma's injuries are life-threatening, the police may have to treat it like a crime scene.

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Jim grabs his camera to record the scene as evidence.

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-That's her shoe there.

-He spots one of Emma's shoes under the car.

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There's another some way away on the grass.

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With the ambulance now on its way to hospital, Jim and his colleagues can only wait

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until they know how bad her injuries really are.

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When people are taken off by ambulance, it can be quite a while before you know their condition.

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In the meantime, you get on with it.

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'You've got work to do, witnesses to speak to,'

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but you are constantly waiting for that call to say how that person is.

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In the meantime, Jim needs to get a full statement from Mark.

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I know I've asked you briefly, but for the benefit of my notebook, what happened?

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I was going down Forest Road...

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Immediately, you think you've done something wrong.

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And you feel that you're the guilty party, in effect,

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because that's the way it's got to be investigated.

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You're the one behind the wheel, in the killing machine.

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In terms of this investigation

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we'll decide whether or not you were at fault, as with any accident.

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We just look at it, decide if there's been any fault.

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The chances are she stepped out without looking.

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I doubt very much there will be anything coming back onto you,

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but we'll see what happens.

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What the witnesses said about it,

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there was nothing I could do,

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but you don't feel any better. The paramedics took her away

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and all said it was life-threatening, that's all I had,

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for three or four hours,

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knowing that the possibility that child would die because of my car.

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Everything still depends on Emma. Jim can't clear the scene, but he can at least let Mark get home.

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Mark, we're all done. You can head off now.

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I'll give you a call later to let you know how she is.

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It's me who'll be dealing with it. I'll call later on and let you know how she is.

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I'll update you on everything. You OK?

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-Need a cup of tea.

-Something a bit stronger later, maybe.

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I don't drink during the week.

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No, no, all right, then. I'll give you a call later on.

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Soon after, the call from the hospital with an update.

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'There are several grazings over her body. She's conscious, breathing on her own

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'and talking as if nothing happened to her.'

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Can I confirm, there's no significant head or brain injury?

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'That is confirmed. That is confirmed.'

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So, amazingly, despite that massive dent in the windscreen,

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it seems young Emma's survived comparatively unscathed.

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-Lovely.

-Happy days.

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It was the biggest weight off my shoulders that I could imagine.

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The fact that she was all right and it wasn't life-threatening.

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'She can go back to school and everything else, to a normal life.'

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But hopefully will have learned something out of it.

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It was a fantastic weight off my shoulders.

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With Emma out of danger and a full picture now emerging,

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Jim can clear the scene. Later in the programme,

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we'll hear from Emma and find out how she's progressing.

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It's early in the morning, and the Animal Rescue Unit

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have been called out for a second time by British Divers and Marine Life Rescue.

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Yesterday, they had their first sighting of a northern bottlenose whale

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in trouble, swimming off the Hampshire coast.

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The fact that Jim Green and his men are needed means only one thing.

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The whale is stranded now.

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And the British Divers and Marine Life Rescue

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want access to the whale so they can assess it.

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See what its condition is.

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Jim's heading to Hayling Island near Portsmouth where his colleages

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have already scrambled three fire crews.

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All right. Get yourself suited in a second

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then we'll go and make an assessment.

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The 18-foot-whale is beached on the mud flats.

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It's still alive, but it's now a battle against time to save the animal.

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A battle to be fought in the toughest conditions,

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hot weather and deep mud.

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The Fire Service is doing all they can to keep the whale cool by spraying it with water.

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INDISTINCT SPEECH

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If they keep walking in and out here all morning...

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The mud flats are potentially treacherous to work on.

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There we go then.

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So the first thing Jim has to do is sort out a safe surface.

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They use large inflatable pathways designed specifically for rescues in conditions like these.

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You get people from different organisations and volunteers, so you need a level of co-ordination.

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Our role here, as well as support, is also a co-ordination role.

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Can you get that out to him?

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Now the walkway is in place, the rescuers can get all the equipment they need whaleside.

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They have covered the animal in linen sheets to keep the skin wet.

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Anton stays in contact with Jim, telling him exactly what's required.

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The whale has gone over on its side. They're now digging a channel to try and right it,

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then we'll try and float it out.

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We'll get a big firefighting jet out there,

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from this river over here, and blast the channel to get it out.

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The rescuers have to work quickly.

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It's 8.30 in the morning and the experts know they have only a couple of hours to right the whale.

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The biggest problem we've got with large cetaceans

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is that if they're on a hard surface for a long period of time,

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it starts crushing their internal organs,

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so we've only got two hours to get this animal into deeper water.

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If we can't do that, it can't be re-floated.

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-What will happen then?

-It will have to be put to sleep. Its internal organs will be crushed beyond repair.

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This is an almighty task, requiring superhuman strength.

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It's hard enough to move in the mud, let alone shift five tons of whale.

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We're trying to liquefy the mud around its belly, so it can roll into an upright position,

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but the water is building up around the animal and could cause it to drown if we're not careful.

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So we'll try and get rid of that water to stop that from happening.

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The vet needs to take some blood samples from the whale.

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The tide has started to come in, but the whale hasn't righted itself.

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They try putting strops under the animal and pontoons round it to help lift the whale free from the mud.

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It's extraordinary what lengths the men are going to,

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but as long as it can survive, they'll keep working.

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When you're working in mud, there's suction on your feet, on your legs.

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Slipping and sliding all over the place becomes very tiring.

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But we wouldn't give up until the very last minute.

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All eyes are focused on the fight for life in the mud flats,

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everyone willing the rescuers to pull off this Herculean task.

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The tide is coming in very quickly.

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The tide's racing in.

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We've got a channel through, but we haven't got the time to right the whale now.

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It's just coming in too fast. We had a time limit.

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They've worked their backsides off out there.

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We've got to the point where we've had to make a safety call

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because we cannot be disconnected from the shore at any time.

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The experts from Marine Life Rescue stay around the whale as the fire crews retreat back to shore.

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The whole country looks on to see if this bottlenose can free itself.

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We'll be with the rescuers as the tide comes in.

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The Great North Air Ambulance has been scrambled.

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On board are pilot Captain Andy Figg and air crew paramedics Tom Grantham and Paul Scott.

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They've been called to a golf course in County Durham.

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A 93-year-old man has collapsed after playing nine holes.

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We'll jump out and examine the patient

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and decide which is the best hospital to care for the gentleman.

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Once there, they land on the 18th hole of the golf course itself.

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Bill the golfer is already being cared for in the land ambulance.

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They need to know what caused the collapse, so he'll have to go to hospital to be checked out.

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It will be quicker to take him by air to a trauma unit nearer his home 45 miles away in Saltburn.

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-Could I ask you to take that? Are you driving back to Saltburn?

-No.

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-I'll take it then.

-He goes on the train.

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My colleagues will wheel him across to the aircraft,

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then he'll ride in our helicopter. OK?

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Bill regularly does a 90-mile round trip to play golf here with his friend John Armen.

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Bill, we'll put you on to our stretcher,

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then lift you on to our helicopter.

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Bring your legs round for us, mate.

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He's been playing here for 45 years.

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It's been lovely and warm.

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before he started to play, he had a heavy cold.

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He then started saying his chest was tight.

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Got back into the locker room and collapsed.

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It has been a shock for John to see his golfing partner so ill.

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But he's optimistic that Bill will be back to tee off again soon.

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He's marvellous. To be able to play golf at 93 is a wonderful thing.

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With a bit of luck, he'll be out next Tuesday.

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Once on board, Paul checks Bill's blood pressure and pulse rate.

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-All right there?

-Fine, fine.

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He discovers that Bill's blood pressure is a bit low.

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Paul decides to prepare Bill for any intravenous medicines he may need.

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This is just some salty water going through,

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just in case I need to give you a drug quickly in flight.

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His BP was 90 over 60.

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IV access, O2. He's got a pulse of 65, O2 sats of 100. I'm quite happy with that.

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The team prepare to take off.

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We'll put you on some headphones. If you've got a problem, tap me.

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The crew don't waste any time getting airborne again.

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It'll take just ten minutes' flying time to get Bill to hospital.

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Paul will be sitting beside him to monitor his condition.

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His bp was fairly low.

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We need to know if there's anything internal happening for his bp to drop.

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It may be just a slight faint.

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We'll monitor him en route.

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He's fairly comfortable, I think he's enjoying the flight.

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The minute they touch down on the helipad, Bill is out and on the hospital trolley.

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-Hello there.

-Hello.

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The paramedics hand over to A&E Sister Sarah Newton.

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-All right? And his daughter's been informed. He's got his false teeth in his bag.

-OK.

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With a successful handover, Paul and Tom can get back to base.

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Bill quite enjoyed his flight in the helicopter. He's an experienced air passenger.

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I've been on the...

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the old Lancasters.

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Lysanders. All the old ones.

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Draughty ones!

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Bill will now get all the checks he needs to get to the bottom of what caused that collapse.

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Hopefully, it's nothing serious. He'll get all the blood tests and scans and things.

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I'm sure he'll recover for another game of golf.

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We'll find out if he does make it back to the greens.

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Back at Hayling Island near Portsmouth on the south coast,

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the desperate attempt to save a stranded bottlenose whale continues.

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The whale, which weighs around five tons, beached on the mud flats overnight.

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15 firefighters led by Hampshire Animal Rescue specialists and British Marine Life Rescue

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have worked for four hours clearing its blowhole and creating a way out.

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Attempts to get the animal on to an inflatable pontoon have been beaten by the tide which is now almost in.

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A small crew has stayed by the juvenile male, hoping it will find the strength to swim free.

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We probably stand about a 40/60% chance of getting this animal back out to sea.

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That's a 40% chance which isn't very high.

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With the water around it, it suddenly tries to right itself.

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The creature appears to be heading for open water.

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SHOUTS OF ENCOURAGEMENT

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The rescue kayaks do all they can to encourage the animal to keep on course.

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But once again, it starts heading back towards the mud flats.

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She's constantly rolling on to her right side and it's the right side she was stuck on.

0:23:470:23:52

So we are very concerned for her welfare.

0:23:520:23:56

And there is some more bad news. The results of the blood test confirm their worst fears.

0:23:560:24:02

We've got a very sick whale. It's very clear. The results are very definitive.

0:24:020:24:08

The animal is in a poor condition - kidney failure, muscle damage, anaemia and dehydration.

0:24:080:24:14

And so euthanasia is the only way forward.

0:24:140:24:18

We don't really know why this animal is where it is.

0:24:180:24:22

It has become separated from other bottlenose whales in the deep ocean.

0:24:220:24:27

We don't know why that separation has occurred.

0:24:270:24:30

Is it a sick animal, was it sick to begin with?

0:24:300:24:34

We'll investigate these things on the post-mortem examination.

0:24:340:24:39

We cannot rescue it. Euthanasia is the only humane option.

0:24:390:24:43

Now all they can do is wait until the whale strands again before they can perform the final humane act.

0:24:430:24:51

The whole team were very disappointed we didn't get a result,

0:24:510:24:54

generally we do get a good result. But we gave it a good go.

0:24:540:24:59

I feel extremely privileged to have been able to be on a whale rescue attempt.

0:24:590:25:05

It is so unusual to be there, to be right up close to it,

0:25:050:25:09

to actually look and marvel at the size of this animal,

0:25:090:25:13

but to give it the best chance to get back to its own environment.

0:25:130:25:19

Let's catch up with some of the other rescues we've featured on tonight's programme.

0:25:190:25:25

13-year-old Emma, who was knocked down by a car, has fully recovered,

0:25:250:25:30

but seven weeks after the accident, she still only remembers a fraction.

0:25:300:25:36

I don't remember getting hit or anything. I just remember lying on the floor.

0:25:360:25:43

It's a day mum Jane will never forget.

0:25:430:25:46

Emma's friend knocked on the door and said Emma had been hit by a car and gone through the windscreen.

0:25:460:25:53

So I ran down the road and she was just coming round.

0:25:530:25:58

She said to me, "What's happened? Have I died?" I said, "No, you're fine." But it was such a shock.

0:25:580:26:04

Every parent's worst nightmare.

0:26:040:26:06

Amazingly, Emma had no serious injuries.

0:26:060:26:10

I thought I was really lucky because I didn't have anything wrong. I only had cuts and bruises.

0:26:100:26:17

Emma's learned an important lesson.

0:26:170:26:19

I think it's made her more aware to take more care crossing the road.

0:26:190:26:24

Look once, look twice, look again.

0:26:240:26:27

And it's good news for Bill Reed, the 93-year-old golfer

0:26:270:26:30

who was whisked to hospital after a fainting spell.

0:26:300:26:34

He was in hospital for three hours of checks when he had some good news.

0:26:340:26:39

The doctor told me that I was able to go home and the last thing he said to me,

0:26:390:26:45

"Keep carrying on playing golf."

0:26:450:26:48

So I was very pleased to hear that.

0:26:480:26:50

So how long is Bill hoping to keep playing for?

0:26:500:26:52

I'm 93 now and for another 20 years I suppose I shall be playing golf!

0:26:520:26:58

-Good day's work.

-Yes.

0:27:010:27:03

As for the northern bottlenose whale which stranded on the mud flats of Hayling Island,

0:27:030:27:09

it was humanely put down once it beached again.

0:27:090:27:12

The post-mortem revealed it had kidney failure. Experts believe it was caused by dehydration.

0:27:120:27:19

It probably wasn't eating for several days.

0:27:190:27:21

They get all their fluid from the food they eat. They don't drink.

0:27:210:27:27

So if they're not eating, they dehydrate and this,

0:27:270:27:30

as we know in humans, can cause disorientation

0:27:300:27:34

and they have difficulty navigating.

0:27:340:27:36

That's probably why the animal was in such a difficult location.

0:27:360:27:41

The experts have learnt a lot for future rescues.

0:27:410:27:46

This whale didn't make it,

0:27:460:27:48

but experts believe there is reason to be optimistic.

0:27:480:27:53

The number of strandings we're being informed of is definitely increasing,

0:27:540:27:59

probably as a result of the population levels increasing, which is a good sign.

0:27:590:28:04

I really hope that after the whaling that's gone on around Europe

0:28:050:28:08

that we're now looking at the population levels starting to return to what they used to be.

0:28:080:28:15

Every time you hear a siren it means our emergency services

0:28:150:28:19

are on their way to help someone in distress.

0:28:190:28:23

Join me again next time for more Real Rescues.

0:28:230:28:26

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:28:420:28:45

E-mail [email protected]

0:28:450:28:48

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.


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