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Warning after onlookers hamper air rescue

Kent Air Ambulance
Kent Air Ambulance

Emergency services treating a critically-ill woman were hindered by members of the public.

The Kent Air Ambulance and an RAF Search and Rescue helicopter had both landed on the beach at Folkestone where a woman had been pulled from the sea.

But while crews were treating the woman, members of the public crowded round the helicopters, getting dangerously close to the moving rotor blades.

“It was madness,” said Matt Pavitt, watch officer with Dover Coastguard. “We had to divert people from the incident to move away members of the public.

“Some were as close as five metres. They were trying to see what was going on and did not realise how dangerous it was to be so close.

“It is like using a food blender without a guard.”

The coastguard was alerted to the incident at 3pm on Saturday by Kent police and the ambulance service.

There were reports of a woman seen floating face down in the sea off The Leas.

A Sea King Search and Rescue helicopter, which was on its way to another job, was diverted and landed within minutes.

The crew, plus that of the air ambulance and a land ambulance, worked on the 49-year-old woman who had already been pulled from the water by two passersby.

She was flown to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford by the Sea King, accompanied by the air ambulance medical crew, and is in a critical condition in intensive care.

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