Thank you to one of our Twitter followers, Clive, for writing this blog as a reminder to wear accessible ID on you when you are out and about!
Guest Blog by Clive Baker – Burnham-on-Sea Harriers
After coming home from holiday and receiving an email saying I’m only 12 weeks away from my next half marathon I figured it was high time I got back to the bosom of my running club family. It wasn’t a great evening for a run by non-runner’s standards, rain and breezy, but a true runner would embrace any weather to run in. After warming up and a mile into the run, we turned to run along the esplanade. The weather had closed in and visibility out to sea was poor.
About half a mile along the seafront laying at a shelter there appeared to be a bundle of rags. On closer inspection, it was body. We approached and asked if everything was ok thinking maybe it was a drunk or drug addict but it was a young girl, soaking wet, muddy, shivering and in a state of shock. A couple of our group ran to nearby apartments to ask for blankets and to notify emergency services. The rest of us tried to keep the girl alert by engaging her in conversation.
The girl gradually became less shy and more communicative. She had walked a couple of miles along the beach and had got caught in the mud at Burnham-on-Sea but had managed to drag herself off the beach and to the shelter. She was cold, wet, muddy and distressed. While chatting to her we discovered she was 15 and liked Heavy Metal and Musicals so our medley of Paranoid and Happy Talk went down well, sort of well. Our conversation included such varied topics as Red Dwarf, Dr. Who, Les Misérables and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. We tried to keep the chat light and positive through our own concern.
She had a mobile phone which had an unlocking code so complicated she couldn’t remember and was also clearly undecipherable to us. Her parents had texted but we had to wait for a phone call to speak to them while the paramedics/ambulance services had another emergency to deal with. Time was going on and we were wearing just tee shirts and shorts and we were starting to feel the cold but all the time knowing that this poor girl’s need was greater than ours.
Realising the girl had numerous missed calls from her parents, a gentleman from the neighbouring flats called the Police suggesting they could send a car to her home to reassure her parents and put them in ‘the loop’. Not such an easy task as the call went to a call centre some 30 miles north to Portishead, Bristol so their local knowledge wasn’t that great and the conversation took some time. Eventually after what seemed like hours but actually only an hour had passed, The Burnham Coastguard Rescue Team and her mother arrived and took control of the situation. The girl was sat upright and the blankets and her jacket were removed and replaced with clean, dry ones and she was put in a recovery bag. Finally, we could see her face. She had a relieved look on her face. She smiled sweetly as we said our goodbyes.
Of course, we ran off and completed our designated route but it gave us an opportunity to reflect on the incident. It seemed very silly to walk along the beach so far on such a filthy evening especially as the tide was coming in. The weather was so bad few people would have passed by the girl and the conclusion could have been far worse. I was also concerned about the length of time it took for help to arrive. Then I thought about my own safety as a runner. I never run with my mobile and if I should find myself in a similar predicament, and other walkers and cyclists, would I have the information to simplify a response? Clearly, it’s very important to carry some basic information with you.