On Sunday 9th February, the National Police Air Service (NPAS) rescued a family from a vehicle that had become trapped in rapidly rising floodwater caused by Storm Ciara.
The crew spotted the stricken vehicle near Bellingham, Northumberland, as the fast-flowing waters surrounded the family.
Northumbria Police had received reports from the driver of the car that she and the other occupants of the vehicle were trapped. But she was unable to give her exact location as she was not able to access Google Maps.
NPAS was requested to assist Northumbria Police with the search, and they quickly located a white Suzuki Splash, carrying four people, including an eight-year-old child, in deep fast-flowing floodwater.
The control room had updated NPAS that the occupants of the car were trapped and were starting to panic owing to the floodwater that was beginning to fill the vehicle.
With ground units on their way to the scene but still, some way off and the crew were very concerned for the family’s safety, they decided to land nearby to conduct a rescue.
The two Tactical Flight Officers quickly developed a strategy to rescue all of the occupants using a throw line and seago, which are carried in the helicopter.
Each occupant was recovered from the vehicle, from the rear window due to the amount of floodwater, and they were carried to safety.
Once ground units were on scene, the aircrew left the family in their care and took off.
Ian Vause, Assistant Operations Director (North East and Central) for the National Police Air Service, said:
“From time to time, NPAS crews carry out ad hoc landings after completing a risk assessment.
“In this instance, the crew recognised that the family were in danger and identified a suitable landing place allowing the Tactical Flight Officers to exit the aircraft and rescue the family.
“This was a great outcome and demonstrates how our crews help to save lives and protect the public 24/7, 365 days a year.”
The NPAS crew were from NPAS Newcastle – one of a network of bases across the UK providing borderless air support to the police forces of England and Wales.
Due to the rural location of the car, the female driver was unable to access Google maps to let officers know her exact location.