A HUGE rescue operation was launched on Southend seafront following reports of “multiple casualties across three separate locations”.
The spree of incidents culminated in a “multi-agency response” which saw multiple emergency services free two people trapped in the mud in pitch black conditions.
The night started at the Sealife centre in Eastern Esplanade, Southend, after reports that a person had entered the water.
The Coastguard arrived first to find there was no casualty in the water.
After the arrival of Essex Police and ambulance crews, the Coastguard team were called to reports of a large group of girls in distress on the beach opposite the Roslin Beach Hotel.
They arrived but were unable to find any sign of large group of girls on the beach.
The Coastguard said they finished searching for the girls, which they believed did not exist or had moved on before they arrived, but were soon called back in to action.
Three off duty ambulance workers reported hearing shouts from the mud and people in distress.
Southend Coastguard then formed a “co-orindated a multi-agency response” involving Essex fire crews, ambulance teams, RNLI Southend, a search and rescue helicopter and Essex Police.
A swarm of emergency vehicles could be seen lining seafront.
Emergency services used thermal imaging and night vision to try and find them.
However, no casualties were spotted but shortly after reports emerged of two people stuck in the mud back towrds the Roslin area.
A helicopter with thermal imaging was able to spot them.
A spokesman for HM Coastguard Southend said: “Coastguard officers were flagged down by three off duty ambulance officers after hearing shouts from the mud of people in distress.
“Southend Coastguard then coordinated a multi agency response which involved, Essex County Fire and Rescue Service , East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust Incident vehicles, RNLI Southend Lifeboat Southend Hovercraft, a search and rescue helicopter and Essex Police.
“Also council security guards helped with managing a cordon to allow rescue officers to conduct their duties from members of public.
“Various thermal imaging was used from the helicopter above, Essex Fire and Rescue and Southend hovercraft night vision but no casualties were spotted.
“Further reports then came in of two casualties stuck in mud back towards the Roslin locale, the helicopter spotted them on their thermal imaging and Southend Coastguard then went to scene to deal with that incident and perform a welfare check on the casualties but they had by then made it to shore and left the scene.
“This was a fast moving and dynamic number of incidents over three hours, involving multi locations and required the close cooperation across all emergency services and we would to thank all those involved which shows how all agency services work together seamlessly through use of JESIP (Joint Emergency Services Interoperability Principles)
“Should you see anyone in trouble on or near the coast, don’t hesitate to dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard, you could save someone’s life.”