A BEXHILL fire crew had “a race against time” to save a woman stuck in mud at Galley Hill.
The mud was up to her waist with water rapidly rising above it and the tide coming in.
Red Watch commander Andy Upton said afterwards that if the rescue had come any later her head would have been under water.
The seafront drama took place on Tuesday morning just before 11am.
Having sunk into the mud on the beach near the Angling Club and realising she was trapped, the woman, thought to be in her 30’s, tried to get help by waving her arms at passers-by and alert them to her distress.
Eventually someone did notice her but was unable to get near enough to help because of the mud.
The victim luckily had her mobile phone with her, so made an emergency call which first went to the coastguard who then contacted East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service.
Red Watch crew from Bexhill community fire station and the Technical Rescue Unit from Battle responded and found the woman who by then had been trapped for some 20 minutes with the water level getting higher.
Commander Upton said: “Fortunately where she was stuck was very close to the groyne which meant the fire crew could stand on it and get purchase around her arms. Just slight movement really was needed to make a gap in the mud which meant water then rushed in and released the suction. As soon as you let in a tiny bit of water it breaks the seal, and allows the person to come up.”
He added: “It was a race against time to pull her out of the water. By the time the crews got to the top of the beach after rescuing her, her head would have been covered, without a doubt.
“We would always ask people to bear in mind their own safety when on the beach. There are areas on the beach that are muddy and silty, so the public should always observe the warning signs around them.”