Hovercraft will be UK's first

WESTON is set to get the country's first rescue hovercraft to be operated by firefighters. Avon Fire Authority has announced plans to buy the hovercraft, which will be housed at Weston Fire Station in Milton Avenue. The new craft, which can reach speeds o

WESTON is set to get the country's first rescue hovercraft to be operated by firefighters.Avon Fire Authority has announced plans to buy the hovercraft, which will be housed at Weston Fire Station in Milton Avenue.The new craft, which can reach speeds of up to 30 knots, is expected to operate with a crew of three, leaving space for two casualties. It will carry specialist equipment such as sand lances and inflatable working platforms and stretchers.But assistant chief fire officer John Dando said the hovercraft will not be used exclusively for beach and mud rescues.He said: "Obviously the primary use of the hovercraft will be to carry out snatch rescues from beaches in the Weston area. "It will mean we will be able to reach trapped casualties in just a few minutes rather than going through the painstaking process of using inflatable walkways. "Clearly with the flooding we have seen this summer a hovercraft would have been a huge asset on inland waterways, but we also believe it could be used to ferry equipment and staff to incidents such as animal rescues on soft ground or road traffic collisions that may involve a beach." The idea of purchasing a hovercraft was first suggested in 2003 following the death of five-year-old Lelaina Hall who became trapped in mud on Berrow beach. The hovercraft is expected to operate in Weston Bay and Sand Bay from 2008.It will be introduced with the cooperation of HM Coastguard, the RNLI and the Burnham Area Rescue Boat (BARB) charity, all of which have supported the project.


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