Lulworth Coastguard has issued a full account of what happened yesterday (Saturday 30th May 2020) at Durdle Door and its response to the critical incident that involved three helicopters and left two people with major injuries, one with serious injuries and a fourth with a broken ankle.
This was after they jumped 60 metres from the Durdle Door arch into the sea, while encouraged by the crowds on the beach.
The incident also involved the Weymouth RNLI lifeboat
This is the Lulworth Coastguard’s full report:
“An afternoon none of our team will forget in a hurry.
“The pagers sounded at 15:50, Solent asked the team to assist South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust with a casualty who had been pulled from the sea bed after jumping from Durdle Door. Also tasked were Lulworth First Responders, Kimmeridge Coastguard, Weymouth Lifeboat, Dorset Police, Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and Coastguard Rescue 175.
“Arriving on scene, the team made their way down the steps to the beach, locating the casualty near to the base of the steps.
“He was receiving help from the medical professionals already on scene. Lulworth CRT began to create a landing site for the helicopter.
No social distancing possible as crowds have to make space for the helicopters to land
“The beach had thousands of people on it and we thank the majority of people who complied with our shouting to clear a helicopter landing site, a very difficult challenge.
“Helimed (Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance) landed on the beach. We were then made aware of a second casualty two thirds of the way around the beach who had also jumped from the door. Somehow he had managed to stagger back to his friends before falling very unwell.
“The paramedics deemed his injuries very serious and requested that, like the first casualty, for him to be flown to the major trauma centre in Southampton.
“Team members and police now had to clear a second landing site for Rescue 175 which had been circling the area. The beach was cleared, with many day trippers now on Scratchy Bottom beach.
Beach crowds make way for a second helicopter to land on the beach
“The second helicopter landed, unloaded their paramedic and stretcher before returning to base to refuel. The second casualty was carefully prepared for hospital.
“The first helicopter then left the scene, flying at best speed to Southampton. The police then declared the beach to be closed. The thousands caught in-between the two landing sites now asked to leave the beach.
“Our Senior Coastal Operations Officer had been maintaining communications on high ground when a third casualty made himself known to him. He had also jumped from Durdle Door and had serious injuries to his torso. An ambulance crew (one of five on site) dealt with his injuries and took him to Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester.
“Rescue 175 was now back on scene and landed again on the beach. The second casualty was loaded on board, and flown to Southampton.
“The remaining beach goers were now asked to leave.
“The police had to deal with alcohol fuelled minor scuffles, as well as a small but out of control fire from a barbecue.
Casualty treated near the car park at Durdle Door
“On returning up the steps, a fourth casualty had identified on high ground above Durdle Door. The lady had a suspected broken ankle and due to gradient of the hill, a stretcher carry out was too risky. Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 187 from St Athan was sent to the area. They dropped their paramedics on top of the hill, and walked down to the lady. She was placed in a rescue strop and winched into the aircraft. They flew her to the top of the hill and transferred her to a land ambulance.
“After a debrief, Lulworth and Kimmeridge returned to their stations at about 21:30.”
Coastguard helicopter and vehicle at Durdle Door
Privately owned by the Lulworth Estate
Durdle Door is privately owned by the Lulworth Estate and it made the decision to reopen the car park after the lockdown restrictions were eased to allow day trips in England. The last two weekends have seen the steps down to the beach and the beach itself packed by visitors, many who have driven over an hour to reach the remote Dorset beauty spot. The Lulworth Estate has been contacted by Swanage News to respond to yesterday’s incident on its land.
Due to the overcrowded beach and the seriousness of the injuries sustained by the four casualties, the incident involved the resources of:
- Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance
- Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 175
- Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 187
- Five ambulances from the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust
- Lulworth Coastguard
- Lulworth First Responders
- Kimmeridge Coastguard
- Weymouth RNLI Lifeboat
- Dorset Police
One of the three helicopters used in the rescue, lands on the beach
Lulworth Coastguard said:
“Upsetting scenes like we and many others witnessed yesterday, illustrate how very dangerous tombstoning is. We couldn’t discourage it enough.
“Thank you everyone who helped in one way or another yesterday including the Lulworth Estate staff who, as usual, were integral to keeping traffic flowing aiding emergency vehicles entering the area. We wish all the casualties the very best.
“We would also like to reiterate our thanks to the vast majority of beach goers who were patient and cooperative in what was a very difficult situation. Described as a critical incident by police.”
Durdle Door is now closed to the public
The beach is now closed to the public and Dorset Council has closed the access roads to all visitors, so people are being asked to avoid the area.
Dorset Council’s Corporate Director and Duty Gold Officer, Jonathan Mair said:
“Following multiple serious incidents at Durdle Door yesterday involving the emergency services, we have taken the decision to keep the roads to Lulworth and Durdle Door closed today on safety grounds.
“We would ask people to please think twice before visiting Dorset’s beaches as they are becoming overcrowded and maintaining social distancing is becoming difficult.”
Emergency services videos
Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 187 leaving Durdle Door yesterday evening.
Weymouth RNLI video of the Coastguard Rescue Helicopter 175 landing on the beach.