Episode 1 Real Rescues


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Episode 1

Nick Knowles and Louise Minchin present dramatic events from the work of the emergency services. This episode contains the three-day mid-ocean rescue of a wrecked sailing ship.


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Today on Real Rescues, a three-day marathon rescue at sea.

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A square-rigged sailing ship is wrecked 150 miles from land when a sudden storm snaps off its masts.

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Nearly 50 people, including schoolchildren, are in danger.

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And a random act of violence. But it's not just a car that goes up in flames,

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a man's independence goes up with it.

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It's my husband's way of having some freedom, so I am very coldly angry.

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Hello, and welcome to Real Rescues

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from this very impressive control room

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for the South Western Ambulance service.

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Yes, the team here take calls

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from a major slice of the South West of England,

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and they are busy taking 10,000 calls a month,

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not just from people who live here,

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but also from the 17.5 million people who visit this area every year.

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Over here on my left are lots of the call takers

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and with me here behind me is Sam.

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She's control officer, she's in charge today.

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Hello to the dispatchers and schedulers! Morning, everyone.

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Morning.

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Those that can speak are speaking, those that can't, obviously getting on with their calls.

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This is the team that gets ambulances to the right places in the shortest possible time.

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And of course when they're busy on a call, we won't be disturbing them.

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Now, Real Rescues features all of the UK's emergency services,

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in the air, on land and, for this next rescue, at sea.

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The tall ship Fryderyk Chopin is dead in the water

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after a freak storm has snapped two of her masts.

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Her rigging is dragging in the sea and she needs help fast.

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Nearly 50 lives are at stake, many of them Polish schoolchildren.

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It's going to take real determination and skill

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from the tiniest ship in the area to bring her to safety.

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A battered and broken square-rigger is drifting helplessly in the Atlantic.

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It looks like a scene out of the history books...

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..but this is a modern-day emergency and it's happening 100 miles off the Isles of Scilly.

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Onboard the tall ship the Fryderyk Chopin are 47 people,

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most of them young Polish teenaged sea cadets.

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In charge is Captain Baranski.

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His ship's foremast is smashed after a freak gust.

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The main mast is broken too. He's run out of options.

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He maydays Falmouth Coastguard.

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Teacher Martin Tyfa felt something ominous and dashed up on deck.

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Well, I just felt

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a very unusual vibration of the whole hull.

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And then the first mate appeared and said that the foremast is down.

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So, within seconds, we were on the deck,

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and the scene was, you know, unbelievable.

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It was a nightmare, you know.

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There's danger from above and below.

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One broken mast is dangling loose over the deck.

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The other is in the water, dragging against the hull.

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There was some danger that the hull can be damaged,

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and also then it would be a disaster because the ship could sink.

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The Coast Guard knows this ship is dead in the water.

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47 people are onboard and a long way from land,

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too far away and too many people to attempt an air-sea rescue.

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The Fryderyk Chopin is here, 100 miles away from the Isles of Scilly.

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It's on the extreme of our search-and-rescue facilities range.

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We've got a helicopter base here at Culdrose.

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They came to forward readiness

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and refuelled on the Isles of Scilly in the event of the situation deteriorating.

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But apart from that we're relying on merchant shipping,

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any other ship that's able to help us in the area.

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The rescue will have to be by sea.

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The St Mary's lifeboat from the Isles of Scilly is launched

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as the Coast Guards use their satellite technology

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to identify and contact nearby shipping.

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Back onboard the Fryderyk Chopin, all thoughts are for the safety of the children.

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If something happened to them, it would be a disaster.

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So they were ordered to go down and they obeyed this rule,

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the first time without any argument.

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All Captain Baranski can do is make his broken ship as safe as possible.

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One of the crew is sent up to secure the remains of the mast.

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Of course there was some danger,

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but, you know, but it was a risk which should be taken.

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Back at Falmouth, merchant ships and fishermen are replying to the mayday.

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We rapidly got information back from ships who were obeying the sort of unwritten rule of the sea...

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if they're in a position to be able to assist, they will divert from their own crossing, their own passage

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to be able to go and help.

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The Chopin is not alone. Four vessels are in the area,

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two large tankers, a French fishing trawler and, from Cornwall, the smallest of them all,

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the trawler the Nova Spero.

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Mayday is "Come and help me. We're in big trouble." So that's what we did.

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The Nova Spero is just 40 miles away,

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but she's sailing into gale-force winds. It could take her six hours to get there.

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Back onboard the crippled Chopin, the captain's decided to keep all his passengers on the ship.

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To take somebody from the ship by helicopter, for example,

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with waves of 6 or 7 metres, certainly some accident would happen.

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So my decision was that they should stay onboard,

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and that they should be taken to the nearest harbour.

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The crew know the only way they can get to shore is under tow,

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but Falmouth is 150 miles away.

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Help is now visible on the horizon.

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The container ship, the MSC Nerissa has arrived,

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but connecting the two ships by a tow rope is to prove unsuccessful.

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We were facing the situation

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where the two merchant ships that had arrived on scene

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had said that they were too big to be able to effectively make the tow,

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to be able to pass the rope across and to be able to conduct it.

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A French fishing vessel arrived on scene as well

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and he attempted to establish a tow as well and he couldn't do it.

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It's now up to the little Cornish fishing vessel the Nova Spero

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to pull off this mighty and lengthy rescue,

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but she's already been battling through strong winds for more than five hours,

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and still isn't on the scene.

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And we'll see later how the crew of the tiny Nova Spero

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put themselves at great risk in an attempt to attach a tow line.

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-I want to speak to Caroline here who's a paramedic, also clinical supervisor. You OK to talk?

-Yeah.

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You were called to a man who'd been crushed by a huge church bell. What had happened?

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He was just doing maintenance work on an upturned bell,

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and, one way or another, it managed to fall on him,

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-and crush his pelvis.

-And he was pretty badly injured, was he?

-Yeah.

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He was severely injured. He had a fractured pelvis and he was bleeding internally.

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What do you do in that sort of situation? What's your priority?

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The priority was to get him out,

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but, obviously, because he was in the bell tower, we had to get him down a spiral staircase,

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so we had to get specialist fire crews in to help us with that.

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-Which was a pretty tricky operation, was it?

-Yeah, it was.

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And then at the bottom of the staircase we then had to lower him into the main church

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-and get him out that way.

-And how on earth did they do that, then?

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They just sort of abseiled him off of the side into the main church building.

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What an extraordinary story. And tell me, is he OK, the man? Because he was really badly injured.

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Yeah, he's made a full recovery, but it was a very long process, so...

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-Caroline, thank you very much.

-All right. Thank you.

-Nick?

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There are places not to have accidents, and up a bell tower is obviously one of them!

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Now, when police officer Jo Funnell collapses with chest pains, it's a fire-fighter who comes to her aid.

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And he happens to be her husband, Martin.

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It's thanks to his professionalism that he stays so calm.

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This is the emergency call he made.

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Now, this is Martin who you could actually hear in that call.

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I have to say you were incredibly calm. Most people who have a partner that ill,

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are going berserk on the phone.

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I think I just went into automatic mode.

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I was so shocked and surprised first of all

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-that Jo had actually become so ill so quickly.

-No sign of it, then?

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-No lead up to it?

-Nothing, totally unexpected,

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and I think all the training... everything I'd done in the years of being in the fire service

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just suddenly kicked in and it didn't really matter that it was Jo,

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it was just a case of making sure everything was done to ensure she was...do the best I could for her.

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And so were you performing CPR or something at that stage

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or were you literally just looking for advice?

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I was listening to the advice given by the call operator,

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I was preparing myself to do CPR,

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and to be honest that was when it first kicked in that it was Jo that was lying on the floor.

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Extraordinary! Martin was determined to keep calm

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as his 12-year-old son Josh was beginning to get very upset.

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It was the best strategy as Jo was in pain and her condition was about to become critical.

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Let's go back to the call.

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Tony Gilbert was in the ambulance that arrived there.

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How obvious was it that it was a heart-attack situation?

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It was very obvious. My colleague Richard

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who had arrived on scene first of all handed over to us

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that Jo was presenting

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-with obvious signs of having a heart attack.

-How do you know what those signs are, briefly?

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It varies from person to person,

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but people will get some central chest pain which may radiate into their arm or into their neck,

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-and they'll feel very, very unwell quite quickly.

-Yeah.

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But if they want to know more about the signs and symptoms, best to go to the British Heart Foundation website

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and have a look. They've got some excellent information.

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-Once you got her into the ambulance, it actually became even more serious, didn't it?

-That's right.

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We wanted to get Jo into the ambulance to give her some pain relief,

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cos she was in a lot of distress, and, unfortunately, within a few minutes of being on the ambulance,

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she suffered the first of two cardiac arrests that she had whilst she was with us.

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Two in the ambulance? And what was it that caused it?

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The heart attack itself would have caused the cardiac arrest.

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-And it was a blood clot that caused the heart attack?

-That's right.

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A blood clot in the heart will lead to electrical activity not doing what it's supposed to do in the heart,

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-and that will lead to a cardiac arrest.

-All right. Thank you very much.

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You might like to know that Jo did very well, well enough in fact that she can join us here.

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-You're looking very well, Jo!

-Thank you very much.

-And this is Josh who you heard about as well.

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-Because Josh was obviously... Very frightening for you, I should imagine, Josh.

-It was.

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But I knew what was happening,

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and I knew that the professionals were on their way to help,

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-and they did well to keep my mum alive.

-Jo, listening to that, are you a bit miffed that he was so calm?

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Sounds like he'd gone off to make a cup of coffee!

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He's incredibly calm!

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Having been a former police officer yourself,

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you know that calm is really important in those situations.

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That's right, yeah.

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We both had to remain calm, really, just to get through it, I think.

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-Very terrifying.

-Very, very terrifying.

-How are you feeling at the moment?

-Fine.

-Really?

-Yes.

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Were you impressed with the doctors and everybody that was involved?

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Yeah...it's, like...

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the NHS certainly is sort of one of the best services that you can get in this country, I'd say.

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-Fancy being a doctor?

-Definitely.

-Really? Really you do?

-Yeah.

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I'd love to be a cardiologist when I'm older, so...

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Well, that's fantastic, isn't it?

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So...listen... presumably you were amazed yourself,

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having been so often at an accident or a situation as a professional,

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to be in that situation and watch people move around you?

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It's...I work with the ambulance service and the other emergency services almost on a daily basis,

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but to actually have them in your own front room, doing what they do best, and showing...

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We hear a lot of complaints about the NHS and what's good and what's bad about it,

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but I can't thank the lads enough and the whole of the NHS for the way that they performed

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and brought Jo back to where she is now.

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Lovely! It's great to see you, great to see you looking so well.

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-Hell of a job you've got, isn't it?

-It certainly is!

-Thank you very much for doing it.

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-Thank you, everybody.

-Thank you.

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Still to come on Real Rescues...

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we'd all be upset if our car went up in flames,

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but what if it's ruined your car and wrecked your husband's life as well?

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I've now got a husband who's housebound thanks to whoever this person was.

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There's nothing dumb about this dummy.

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Meet Simulation or Sim Man - the medical training device which talks!

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Hello.

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Is anybody there?

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Come and help me! I'm not feeling very well.

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Today we are following one of the longest rescues we've seen at sea.

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The Fryderyk Chopin is a sail-training ship with 36 Polish students aboard,

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but today one of the world's most exciting classrooms is stricken in gale-force winds.

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She's too far from land for an air-sea rescue

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and it's up to a small fishing boat to save her.

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It's getting late on a Friday afternoon.

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The tall ship the Fryderyk Chopin has been drifting helplessly since 8am.

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47 people are onboard and their only hope of getting safely to shore is under tow.

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Three ships have failed to get a tow line onboard.

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All hope rests with the Cornish trawler the Nova Spero.

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The wind is coming up from this direction

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and the Nova Spero is beating into the very, very heavy weather,

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and it takes it 6 hours to do that 40 miles to get itself on scene.

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As a father himself, the skipper's thoughts are for the children onboard.

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I knew there was 47 people onboard.

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I knew that there was 36 students.

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I thought, "Well, my daughter's only 18 months younger than a lot of them onboard, you know."

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It must be quite frightening at times, I would have thought.

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The number-one objective was to get them to Falmouth safe and sound.

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At last, after six hours of heavy sailing, they've made it.

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The square-rigger is finally in their sights.

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She was a mess, you know, a beautiful twin-masted sail-training vessel,

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but she looked a mess.

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I assessed the situation. Out of the four vessels there, I knew we was the best option she had,

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provided we could get a rope on to her before dark.

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With only an hour of daylight left, Shaun and his crew have to work fast.

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They can't do it alone.

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There was fantastic cooperation on scene between all the vessels.

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The French fishing vessel helped the Nova Spero,

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the Overseas Andromar gave its tow line...

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The Fryderyk Chopin is being sheltered from the worst of the weather

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by one of the container ships.

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The conditions are hazardous.

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One gust could slam the trawler against the tall ship with devastating consequences.

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Us being a timber boat, if we got picked up and thrown on to her,

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we would have smashed...you know, we'd have had pretty severe damage to our own vessel.

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It takes great seamanship and commitment.

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Neither is in question as they attempt to attach the tow line.

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We came downwind...

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close...

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sometimes too close,

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but the lads did a fantastic job, you know, it went well...

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It went as well as it could have gone.

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The lifeline can now be clearly seen running between the Fryderyk Chopin and its tiny saviour.

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We've got four people onboard the fishing boat who have sort of taken the time, the effort and commitment

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to try and tow this vessel 100, 150 miles back to the mainland.

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It's a very difficult operation, and for the captain onboard

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who's then having to deal with the situation

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where he's taken sort of tacit responsibility

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for the lives of everybody who he's now got on the end of the tow rope behind him.

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She was a big, big ship to tow.

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Yes, I looked at the lads...

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you know, she's a big lump of boat.

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It's taken a day to get a rescue ship and a tow line attached.

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The Nova Spero is now hauling its mighty load through the large swell,

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but everyone knows just how difficult a task this is and how far they still have to go.

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The danger isn't cleared at any point. Yes, they're on a tow line,

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but they've still got masts, rigging, wires, bits of metal poking out on the ship,

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they're towing this ship through the night and with a forecast of increasingly poor conditions as well.

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As day becomes night, the rescue mission continues.

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Below decks, the children are preparing for a rough night in worsening weather.

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Dry land may be more than a day away.

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I couldn't sleep, and everyone wasn't able to sleep,

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because how can you sleep? You have to be on standby every minute.

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We have our jackets on, so we didn't even go to our beds,

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we were just lying in the gangway, in the corridor.

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The convoy creeps on through the dark night and choppy seas.

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If the ship needs evacuating, it will be up to the RNLI volunteer lifeboat crew to come to the rescue.

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Land is 90 miles away.

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The little trawler can only manage speeds of a few knots.

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It's going to be one of the longest rescues from these waters.

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Well, skipper Shaun knew nothing of what was going on behind the scenes during the rescue.

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The British and Polish Prime Ministers have spoken on the phone.

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And over in Poland the whole nation is watching each move Shaun makes.

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We've already heard on the programme how an ambulance crew saved a woman

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after she had not one but two heart attacks.

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Obviously, the teams here can't train for that on real people, so they have Mr Simulation Man.

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-Hello, Sim Man, how are you?

-Good morning. Not too good.

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-Rob, I think he's going to need some help from you.

-Good morning.

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-I think I recognise you.

-Me?

-Aren't you the lady off the TV?

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Yes, but I'm a bit more concerned about you. What's your name?

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I feel a lot better now.

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My name's Phil.

0:21:370:21:39

He's incredibly realistic, Rob. This is how you train people, isn't it?

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-It is, and we've got to make it as real as we can for our staff and students.

-Yeah.

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Obviously, as you say, you can't practise on a real person.

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-Yeah.

-So we use a plastic person that they can stick needles in

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-and he always dies!

-He frightened me when I touched him. He seemed to groan.

0:21:530:21:57

So you can see his chest... He's also got a pulse as well, hasn't he?

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Yes, pulse is from the wrist.

0:22:000:22:02

-We can do the brachial pulses, we can do BPs...

-Yeah.

0:22:020:22:06

Er...carotid pulses, we can listen to the chest, listen to the heart, listen to the abdomen...

0:22:060:22:11

-so as real as we can.

-A really clever piece of kit.

0:22:110:22:14

He can also have various things happen to him like anaphylactic shock, for example, can't he?

0:22:140:22:18

Yeah, just one of the conditions we can set,

0:22:180:22:21

and, you know, his tongue can swell.

0:22:210:22:24

OK. Phil, how are you feeling now?

0:22:240:22:27

-I'm not too good. My tongue and throat are really hurting, they're swelling.

-OK.

0:22:270:22:33

We can get the tutor who's running Phil to actually give information over the other speakers.

0:22:330:22:39

OK, so what's going on here? If he was in anaphylactic shock...

0:22:390:22:42

Oh, I can see. His tongue is actually swelling, isn't it?

0:22:420:22:44

So that would make it difficult.

0:22:440:22:46

-Other things as well, for example, cardiac arrest.

-Yeah, we can make the cardiac arrest happen.

-Mm-hm.

0:22:460:22:51

And most students that come in think he's going to have a cardiac arrest anyway,

0:22:510:22:54

-cos that's what Sim Man's designed for.

-I can see his chest isn't moving now,

0:22:540:22:59

-so does that mean he's in trouble?

-It's probably not good and he's gone quiet.

0:22:590:23:02

-OK, shall I leave you to sort that out?

-Thank you very much.

0:23:020:23:04

-Thank you.

-Phil, Phil, can you hear me?

-So I'll leave Rob... This is clearly a training situation.

0:23:040:23:09

The person who's training him is Phil who's in here, and Phil's got the controls of everything.

0:23:090:23:13

-No breathing, no pulse.

-OK, so that's what we know is wrong with him.

0:23:130:23:18

And, Phil, you can monitor it literally here on the screen, can't you, what Rob is doing.

0:23:180:23:22

You can actually record the actual interventions.

0:23:220:23:25

And you can see he's starting chest compressions and there it is on your screen.

0:23:250:23:28

And we can actually sort of critique afterwards by sort of reviewing the videos

0:23:280:23:33

-as to how well Rob has performed.

-How's he doing?

0:23:330:23:37

-He's doing OK at the moment. Fingers crossed for the patient.

-OK.

0:23:370:23:41

And you can also see the air going into the lungs. Shall we have a look there?

0:23:410:23:44

Yeah, as Rob inflates the lungs with the bag valve mask,

0:23:440:23:47

it should pick up the inflations in the lungs,

0:23:470:23:50

and when he starts chest compressions, again the indication comes on to the monitor.

0:23:500:23:57

-The indication being that little red spot?

-The little red spot in the chest.

0:23:570:24:00

That actually records start time and stop time as well as the compressions,

0:24:000:24:05

and you can actually sort of...

0:24:050:24:06

as the paramedic or student

0:24:060:24:08

or staff actually sort of performs an intervention,

0:24:080:24:12

you can actually record that

0:24:120:24:13

-on the system.

-And look back at it afterwards. How useful is this?

0:24:130:24:17

It's a good tool, because it's good that you can actually sort of... real-time situations...

0:24:170:24:22

-But not a real person.

-Not a real person, yeah.

-Thank you very much.

0:24:220:24:25

I'm going to leave Sim Man. He clearly needs a lot of work done on him. He's having a bad day.

0:24:250:24:31

Every week in this country 1,400 cars are damaged or destroyed by arson.

0:24:330:24:37

It's an amazing figure. We were shocked ourselves.

0:24:370:24:39

In this rescue, fire-fighters are racing, not just to save one car, but a whole street.

0:24:390:24:45

It's early evening, Green Watch are tearing through the streets of Southampton.

0:24:490:24:52

A car's alight and reports are the fire's spreading along the road.

0:24:540:24:58

Straight on, mate. Hairpin to the left.

0:24:580:25:02

Watch manager Sean Foster catches first sight of the flames as they turn the last corner.

0:25:020:25:07

Yeah, it's going quite well.

0:25:070:25:09

GH 54 Whisky Lima, over.

0:25:100:25:13

GH 54 Whisky Lima, in attendance. Car well alight. Over.

0:25:130:25:17

The car is burning fiercely.

0:25:200:25:22

To make matters worse, a line of burning fuel is running down the road.

0:25:220:25:26

It's already reached the car parked behind.

0:25:270:25:30

Flames are licking at its tyres.

0:25:300:25:32

-We've got petrol dripping down there.

-I'll have a look.

0:25:320:25:35

An entire street of vehicles is at risk.

0:25:350:25:38

Close on Sean's heels is Paul Beckett. He's got the hose ready to use.

0:25:400:25:45

Do you want me to take it?

0:25:450:25:46

Yeah, let's... Let me have it, Paul.

0:25:460:25:49

-Have I got water on?

-Yeah.

0:25:490:25:51

It's rare for an incident commander to tackle flames himself,

0:25:550:25:59

but the car was seconds from flaring up.

0:25:590:26:02

Now he's kitted up in breathing apparatus, Paul Shepherd can take over.

0:26:070:26:11

It's a running-fuel fire. Put it out, mate.

0:26:110:26:13

He and Richie Green get in closer to tackle the main fire.

0:26:160:26:19

Within seconds, they've started to knock it back.

0:26:280:26:31

The owners are still unaware of what's been going on.

0:26:370:26:40

The local police officer is here and has briefed Sean.

0:26:400:26:44

It looks unlikely that this was an accident.

0:26:440:26:47

ROAR OF HELICOPTER

0:26:470:26:48

You can probably hear the noise.

0:26:480:26:50

The noise is from the police helicopter that's out searching for suspects.

0:26:500:26:54

The police seem to think that they deliberately set light to this car.

0:26:540:26:57

The police suspect arson. The Neighbourhood Watch have been on alert

0:26:570:27:00

after a spare of burglaries in the area.

0:27:000:27:04

A member of the public phoned up and said she saw two males

0:27:040:27:06

that weren't really in keeping with the area.

0:27:060:27:09

She challenged them and then they made off.

0:27:090:27:12

Then shortly afterwards this vehicle fire came in,

0:27:120:27:15

so, possibly, two and two maybe making five, but we're looking for two males.

0:27:150:27:20

Obviously, they've got an overall view of the area with their night vision,

0:27:200:27:24

so fingers crossed.

0:27:240:27:26

The worst of the fire is out, but there are still flames underneath the bonnet.

0:27:290:27:34

Richie Green rips it open with a wrecking tool.

0:27:340:27:37

As they douse the last of the hot spots, the owner of the car parked behind

0:27:430:27:46

has arrived to check out any damage.

0:27:460:27:49

When I arrived, I could see flames licking up around here. Your front tyre's gone by the look...

0:27:490:27:53

-No, it hasn't!

-No, it's all right.

0:27:530:27:56

-You've got a bit of bubbling.

-That's not an issue.

0:27:590:28:03

A bit there.

0:28:030:28:05

You're lucky. I thought the tyre had gone as well.

0:28:050:28:08

-You hit it the second you got there.

-Yeah.

0:28:080:28:11

This man was lucky. Sean's quick action has saved his vehicle,

0:28:110:28:14

but the driver of the car at the centre of the fire has yet to find out.

0:28:140:28:18

It's more than a car that's gone up in smoke here, it's a man's independence.

0:28:180:28:23

Sean's next job is to investigate how it all started and gather evidence.

0:28:240:28:29

Yes, there are further repercussions from this car fire

0:28:290:28:32

and the owners are understandably furious with good reason.

0:28:320:28:36

We'll meet them later. Louise.

0:28:360:28:38

Thank you very much. I've just been talking to Elaine. You're a nurse here.

0:28:380:28:41

-You give medical backup to the call-takers here.

-That's right.

0:28:410:28:44

Sometimes you talk to patients as well.

0:28:440:28:46

-I know that when you're off-duty, you're not actually off-duty, are you?

-No, I've had a few.

0:28:460:28:51

OK. Incidents on planes, particularly. Tell me about a little girl who had an earache.

0:28:510:28:55

We had a little girl on the plane who was very distressed,

0:28:550:28:57

crying a lot, her mum was at the end of her tether.

0:28:570:29:01

And she happened to be quite close to me, so I offered my support.

0:29:010:29:04

It was quite clear to me that she seemed to have pain in her ear,

0:29:040:29:08

cos she was holding the side of her head.

0:29:080:29:11

So I quickly guessed that it was probably something to do with the altitude,

0:29:110:29:14

so we just got her a drink, she drank it through a straw and swallowing helped to relieve the pressure.

0:29:140:29:19

And when you hear that call, "Is there a doctor, is there a nurse on the plane?"

0:29:190:29:23

your heart must stop, but you respond to those, don't you?

0:29:230:29:26

Of course, yeah, absolutely.

0:29:260:29:27

First of all you might get, "Is there a doctor?" and then you just wait, because...

0:29:270:29:31

-And you had one really important one, didn't you?

-Absolutely, yeah, there was no doctor on the plane,

0:29:310:29:36

so I went down to see if I could assist on the call,

0:29:360:29:40

and I immediately saw a gentleman who was quite poorly.

0:29:400:29:44

He was quite grey, he was cold, sweaty, and not really responsive at all.

0:29:440:29:50

So I sat down next to him and just spoke to him and tried to reassure him.

0:29:500:29:54

He couldn't really speak and there was an obvious weakness on one side,

0:29:540:29:58

so I began to suspect that he might have been having a stroke, OK?

0:29:580:30:02

But I sat with him for a while and slowly he started to recover,

0:30:020:30:06

and as I started to feel more relaxed,

0:30:060:30:08

one of the stewards came up behind me and said, "Elaine, do you think we need to divert the plane?"

0:30:080:30:13

-And you said...no?

-I said no. I said I was happy that we could make it to our destination.

0:30:130:30:19

-Right decision. And they gave you a bottle of champagne!

-Absolutely! Got the bubbles at the end!

0:30:190:30:23

Let's take you back to that stricken sailing ship, the Fryderyk Chopin.

0:30:230:30:27

She's 90 miles from land and a fishing boat, a third of her size, is towing her to safety.

0:30:270:30:32

As the convoy heads into the night, the weather is getting worse.

0:30:320:30:36

It's Saturday morning, day 2 in the mission to rescue the square-rigged training vessel,

0:30:380:30:43

the Fryderyk Chopin.

0:30:430:30:44

The Cornish fishing boat is hauling a ship three times her size,

0:30:440:30:49

but her skipper knows she's up to the task.

0:30:490:30:52

My vessel was built for towing.

0:30:520:30:55

She's not a tug, she's a fishing boat,

0:30:550:30:56

but she was built for towing, you know, trawls and nets on the seabed.

0:30:560:31:00

The difference is you're not just thinking about yourself and your own crew,

0:31:000:31:03

you're thinking about the people on the ship you're trying to get to a safe haven.

0:31:030:31:07

There's still a long way to go and there's bad weather ahead.

0:31:070:31:12

The convoy is being escorted by three lifeboats.

0:31:120:31:16

If the fallen mast smashes the hull or the tow rope is snagged,

0:31:160:31:20

it will be the lifeboat volunteer crew who will come to the rescue.

0:31:200:31:24

They're ready to act at a moment's notice.

0:31:240:31:27

Fundamental was how were we going to get these people off in a hurry

0:31:270:31:31

if the situation had deteriorated,

0:31:310:31:34

and if it had deteriorated, it would have deteriorated quick.

0:31:340:31:37

If it was one or two people,

0:31:370:31:39

it probably would have been relatively straightforward,

0:31:390:31:43

but they've got 47. And with the best will in the world, you might have suffered injuries and damage.

0:31:430:31:50

And it wasn't the right thing to even consider at the stage we were at,

0:31:500:31:55

other than being prepared to do it if necessary.

0:31:550:31:58

The lifeboats are a very reassuring presence for all.

0:31:580:32:02

It was like having a mate alongside you, really.

0:32:020:32:05

As darkness falls on the second night, the conditions become extremely difficult.

0:32:060:32:11

The wind turned to the southeast,

0:32:110:32:15

and of course it was very strong,

0:32:150:32:18

so the fishing vessel which was towing us

0:32:180:32:22

has not so strong an engine,

0:32:220:32:24

so we were going very slowly, 2 knots or even during sometimes 1 knot,

0:32:240:32:31

almost standing.

0:32:310:32:32

That was an up-all-night job, that was, just trying to hold on to her, really.

0:32:340:32:38

I sort of emphasised, "Can you check your end of the tow rope?" every hour,

0:32:380:32:42

and then they would report back that his end of the tow rope was good and then he would report to Falmouth.

0:32:420:32:46

The lifeboat crew continually check the broken mast has not breached the hull below the water.

0:32:460:32:52

It takes the strongest sea legs to endure this constant rolling.

0:32:520:32:57

We took a turn around the Fryderyk Chopin and we noticed that the ship's bowsprit had broken off

0:32:570:33:03

and that was hanging down ahead of the bow,

0:33:030:33:07

and we were concerned that that was hitting the hull,

0:33:070:33:10

and we went in and illuminated that and had a good close look,

0:33:100:33:13

and the captain of the ship said that he was happy that it was clear of the hull.

0:33:130:33:19

We then ran up and had a yarn with the skipper of the Nova Spero,

0:33:190:33:23

and they had a really, really uncomfortable time.

0:33:230:33:26

In the fishing boat they were rolling

0:33:260:33:29

and they were towing so therefore held by the stern across the weather,

0:33:290:33:34

so they were just rolling, their rail's under, basically, and very, very slow progress.

0:33:340:33:40

But he was happy and gave us the thumbs-up and what have you,

0:33:400:33:44

so it went on through the night.

0:33:440:33:46

Dawn breaks after the longest and most difficult of nights.

0:33:500:33:53

The weather's eased and the final passage into Falmouth is calm.

0:33:530:33:57

The crew of the Nova Spero have been working at the extremes.

0:33:570:34:02

They're exhausted but, like the Coast Guard, relieved.

0:34:020:34:05

Very happy, very happy when they came in.

0:34:050:34:09

And probably unusually we made sure that we went down to the boathouse to see everybody come ashore.

0:34:090:34:14

Really interesting to see these children sort of not only coming off,

0:34:140:34:18

but not looking scared or frightened, but actually excited and invigorated by the whole thing,

0:34:180:34:22

so absolutely delighted that it turned out safely.

0:34:220:34:25

Captain Baranski's decision to keep all the children with him onboard the Fryderyk Chopin

0:34:250:34:30

has proved to be the right one.

0:34:300:34:32

Of course in such situations, the most important thing

0:34:320:34:36

is to act...you know, not in panic,

0:34:360:34:40

but to do what is necessary to do.

0:34:400:34:44

The Polish Ambassador has travelled from London to pass on a nation's thanks

0:34:440:34:50

to the crew of the Nova Spero.

0:34:500:34:52

We can't be thankful enough to the captain of the Nova Spero.

0:34:520:34:54

Shaun onboard who I saw when they came in,

0:34:540:34:57

he did look absolutely shattered.

0:34:570:34:59

When I spoke to him, he said, "Well, I couldn't have left those children there.

0:34:590:35:02

"Once I saw the ship, I couldn't leave it." He fought to get the line onboard.

0:35:020:35:06

And he was the one who constantly kept it going.

0:35:060:35:09

You know, the lifeboats were all absolutely shattered,

0:35:090:35:12

we were worried about them being out for 20 hours at a time,

0:35:120:35:14

and yet here Shaun was onboard the Nova Spero with his crew

0:35:140:35:17

that kept this going from the moment they arrived on scene

0:35:170:35:20

until the moment that all the children were disembarked in Falmouth.

0:35:200:35:23

What they did is a remarkable feat.

0:35:230:35:25

We heard Shaun Edwards say, "I couldn't have left those children there."

0:35:270:35:31

He and his crew worked in extreme conditions for over 48 hours.

0:35:310:35:34

Even though Shaun's livelihood depended on the fish he catches, he dropped everything.

0:35:340:35:38

We've seen on Real Rescues before how sailors go selflessly to the aid of fellow mariners.

0:35:380:35:44

We saw the huge Burmese tanker that changed course

0:35:440:35:46

to save the stricken British yacht Octagon and take the passengers on board.

0:35:460:35:50

And then there was the captain of the Mizpah who cut his fishing nets adrift

0:36:080:36:12

to race to save his friend on the burning ship Be Ready.

0:36:120:36:14

It was a heroic rescue in raging seas.

0:36:140:36:18

One of the country's most famous sailors and the first person to sail around the world single-handed

0:36:190:36:24

is Sir Robin Knox-Johnston who's been good enough to come in and have a chat with us about this.

0:36:240:36:27

Is it honour that you go help people out at sea or is it enshrined in law, which?

0:36:270:36:34

Well, nowadays it's enshrined in law.

0:36:340:36:36

You have to go to the assistance of a boat if it's in distress,

0:36:360:36:40

and what happens is most boats have an alarm system so it'll go off on your boat,

0:36:400:36:44

and you realise someone's in distress, you might even pick it up.

0:36:440:36:47

And you'll get on to the nearest control centre like the Coast Guard,

0:36:470:36:51

and you'll say, "I'm available, do you want me to assist?"

0:36:510:36:53

And the Coast Guard will choose the most suitable and the closest vessel.

0:36:530:36:57

And they are obliged to go to assist.

0:36:570:37:00

Is it right that that change came about because of the Titanic, by the way?

0:37:000:37:05

Yes. I mean, there was such a fuss about the loss of the Titanic...

0:37:050:37:07

she didn't have enough lifesaving equipment onboard to start with.

0:37:070:37:10

So they said, "We've really got to do something to stop this sort of thing happening again."

0:37:100:37:14

-Wow!

-And there was confusion about which ship was closest... There were a lot of issues with the Titanic.

0:37:140:37:19

You run training vessels with youngsters onboard,

0:37:190:37:22

so you can see for this square-rigger that we've seen here,

0:37:220:37:24

it must have been very frightening for all the kids onboard and for the people looking after them.

0:37:240:37:28

Well, I looked at it and thought, "I wouldn't like to be in the captain's position!"

0:37:280:37:33

He can't use his engine, he's lost his sails,

0:37:330:37:36

and he's got all these youngsters onboard who naturally will be frightened.

0:37:360:37:39

I thought, "You're jolly lucky someone came along to tow you!"

0:37:390:37:42

Have you ever been rescued or had to go to the aid of someone at sea?

0:37:420:37:45

-You've had adventures all round the world.

-I've been towed in a couple of times.

0:37:450:37:49

When I was an apprentice in the Merchant Navy, we picked up the SOS from the Pamir,

0:37:490:37:53

which was a German sail-training ship but we were too far away to offer assistance,

0:37:530:37:58

but I think about 70 people died in that, it was quite nasty.

0:37:580:38:01

But we offered to assist,

0:38:010:38:03

and the Coast Guard said, "No, you're too far away, we've got ships that are closer."

0:38:030:38:07

It's wonderful that everyone turns out for each other, even if it is enshrined in law.

0:38:070:38:11

-It's always been the sailors' way.

-It has. You do it without thinking.

0:38:110:38:14

-It may be the law, but you just do it.

-Lovely to chat to you. Thank you.

-My pleasure.

0:38:140:38:19

A car has been completely destroyed by fire.

0:38:190:38:22

The first signs point to arson.

0:38:220:38:24

As fire-fighters and police look for clues,

0:38:240:38:26

they discover the consequences of this particular fire are devastating.

0:38:260:38:31

Fire-fighters Richie Green and Paul Shepherd are continuing to cool down the burnt-out remains of the car.

0:38:330:38:39

Overhead is the police helicopter, but their search has so far failed to find the suspects.

0:38:430:38:48

Watch manager Sean and PC Gary Morgan look for evidence in the wreckage.

0:38:520:38:57

-You were saying?

-If you look at the seats here...totally gone.

0:38:580:39:03

-If you look in the front now I've put that window in...

-Yeah?

0:39:030:39:05

You can see the fire's gone from the back to the front.

0:39:050:39:08

-If you look at the front of the seats, they are burnt, but look...

-Yeah, got you, yeah.

0:39:080:39:13

So the fire started in that corner.

0:39:130:39:15

Anne, whose husband owns the car, has come to take a closer look at the damage.

0:39:150:39:20

Now, this dent, that wasn't here earlier today. That's new.

0:39:200:39:26

Lady says that dent wasn't there, that crease.

0:39:260:39:30

And the door... if you look at the door...

0:39:300:39:33

It looks like it may have been forced open.

0:39:330:39:36

-When we got here it was only this side that was going.

-Yeah.

0:39:360:39:39

Running-fuel fires are not that common to be honest.

0:39:390:39:41

We get quite a lot of car fires, but not many running-fuel fires.

0:39:410:39:44

So I think someone's possibly had a go at the tank as well.

0:39:440:39:48

I couldn't be 100%, but I'm 95% sure that's what it is.

0:39:480:39:53

-I'll get it recovered.

-All right, lovely. Thank you.

0:39:530:39:56

It would be upsetting for anyone to find their car wrecked in this way,

0:39:570:40:01

but for Anne and husband Richard it's much more than that.

0:40:010:40:05

Richard suffers from multiple sclerosis and the car has been specially adapted for his needs.

0:40:050:40:10

My husband's way of having some independence and freedom and going out on his own.

0:40:100:40:16

At the moment, I am very coldly angry.

0:40:160:40:20

Er..and a bit numb. But underneath that...

0:40:210:40:25

is just a despair as to why people can be stooping so low to destroy a vehicle,

0:40:250:40:32

anybody's vehicle, but especially somebody who's known around the street as being a good neighbour,

0:40:320:40:37

and is known in the area, and who is clearly disabled and has a disabled sticker.

0:40:370:40:43

And it gets worse. In the back of the car are the remains of Richard's wheelchair,

0:40:430:40:47

another vital means of mobility destroyed by the fire.

0:40:470:40:51

I'm just looking at the car behind me and it's just...

0:40:510:40:55

it's heartbreaking.

0:40:550:40:57

It's heartbreaking. I've now got a husband who's housebound thanks to whoever this person was.

0:40:570:41:02

Richard has arrived to salvage anything he can from the ashes.

0:41:040:41:09

It doesn't matter if you can't find them.

0:41:090:41:11

I've got keys, but they won't work, will they?

0:41:130:41:16

Probably not. It might open manually...I don't know.

0:41:160:41:20

Don't worry if you can't.

0:41:210:41:23

-Oh, you're a hero!

-He is.

0:41:230:41:24

You come over for tea, mate!

0:41:240:41:26

They've found Richard's glasses and a favourite travelling companion.

0:41:260:41:30

- You got your polar bear, did you? - Polar bear's been rescued, yeah.

0:41:310:41:34

The great polar bear. It was white. It's now turned into a black bear.

0:41:340:41:37

I've been miles with my polar bear.

0:41:370:41:39

Despite their shock and distress, Richard and Anne still manage to share a joke.

0:41:410:41:46

You could do with some new tyres.

0:41:470:41:49

Your tyres are a bit bald. I'll give you a warning about your tyres.

0:41:500:41:53

Can you give me a warning about the wheelchair tyres as well?

0:41:530:41:57

I'll let you off on that!

0:41:570:41:58

It's annoying because it's actually going to cost the NHS as well. The wheelchair was designed for him.

0:41:580:42:03

It costs everyone, doesn't it?

0:42:030:42:06

The car is ruined,

0:42:060:42:08

but Anne's still full of gratitude.

0:42:080:42:11

That one needs a hug, that one. He's the housewives' favourite, this one.

0:42:130:42:17

You've been brilliant...

0:42:190:42:21

absolutely brilliant, all of you.

0:42:210:42:24

It's an extraordinary figure, isn't it? 1,400 cars affected by arson every week.

0:42:240:42:29

-A lot.

-And what else did we learn today?

0:42:290:42:31

If you're going to have an accident, try not to have one in a church bell tower,

0:42:310:42:35

cos it's going to be difficult to get out.

0:42:350:42:37

Somewhere where they can get to you easily. Remember that if you can!

0:42:370:42:40

That's all from Real Rescues today. Join us next time. We'll see you then. Bye-bye.

0:42:400:42:45

Somebody help me, please!

0:42:480:42:50

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:42:530:42:57

E-mail [email protected]

0:42:570:43:01

Going behind the scenes at one of Britain's biggest ambulance control centres, Nick Knowles and Louise Minchin present dramatic events from the day-to-day work of the emergency services.

This episode contains the three-day mid-ocean rescue of a wrecked sailing ship with 50 children on board, and the emergency call that saved the life of a mother suffering a heart attack.