The rescue of two people cut off by the tide at Hartlepool was made more difficult for the emergency services this afternoon when the pair refused to be rescued unless they were taken ashore along with the driftwood they were collecting.
At quarter past four this afternoon Humber Coastguard were informed of the two people who had been cut off by the tide at the entrance to the River Tees.
Humber Coastguard sent the Hartlepool Coastguard Rescue Team to the scene and requested the launch of the Hartlepool Inshore Lifeboat. When the team arrived on scene they could see that the female was wet and cold and suffering from minor hypothermia. The pair had been collecting driftwood in a shopping trolley when they had been cut off by the incoming tide. Although the two people were clearly in need of rescue, they refused to be taken into the lifeboat unless the RNLI team agreed to take their collection of wood and tools in the boat with them.
Faced with the difficult situation of the woman being in need of urgent medical attention, but it not being practical for the lifeboat to transport a shopping trolley full of wood, Humber Coastguard called Cleveland Police for their assistance, who sent the Police Helicopter.
In the end, the lifeboat crew were forced to concede and bring the wood, and the hypothermic pair, ashore. They were greeted by an ambulance crew but refused medical attention, as well as the Police, who later seized the wood and threw it in the river.
Humber Coastguard Watch Manager said:
"As a general rule, when we send resources out to people who are in need of rescue, they are usually incredibly relieved and pleased to see us. It is very rare that we are met with a situation where members of the public refuse to be rescued, but it does put us in a difficult position when those people are clearly in need of medical attention.
In this case, the 65 year old man was more concerned for his trolley of driftwood than for the safety of the female, who was wet and suffering from hypothermia. Although he did get his way, as the lifeboat were forced to transport the wood in order that the woman’s condition not worsen, the wood was later disposed of by the Police. The two people then refused medical treatment and left in their own vehicle."
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