A potential tragedy was only just averted after coastguards were involved in a dramatic rescue on Fleetwood beach.
Emergency teams had to race against the clock to rescue three people stuck in mud in different areas of the beach as an oncoming tide rushed in.
Fleetwood coastguard station officer Mark Sumner says a combination of tide conditions, treacherous mud, darkness and three separate casualties made the mission particularly complex and challenging,
He is now warning people not to put themselves at risk – even if they think they are helping loved ones - but to bring in the emergency services immediately.
Mr Sumner says the dangers could happen any time if people don’t heed warnings.
The alert went out at 8.15pm on Saturday when a young woman described as “vulnerable” went missing somewhere on the main beach and two male relatives went out towards the sandbanks to bring her back to safety.
But with the tide coming in, they all got into difficulties on the mudbanks and it was then that the coastguard and lifeboat were contacted.
Mr Sumner said: “I cannot stress enough how dangerous the conditions are in Fleetwood. The mudbanks in some areas are like quicksand and people can get sucked in.
“Then there is the really dangerous tide which comes in behind people and cuts them off.
Our message is that if anyone gets into difficulties, do not attempt a rescue - call us.
“People shouldn’t feel embarrassed to make that call - it could save a life.”
The incident occurred about a mile out from the old Fleetwood Pier site.
Mr Sumner said the two adults had gone looking for the young woman and it was one of these men who calling 999 after getting stuck in the mud.
The other man was missing on the sands and was thought to be cut off from the incoming tide.
Mr Sumner said: “It appeared that there was in fact three separate casualties in three separate locations on a very cold, dark beach with a flooding tide already coming in.
“Two search teams were quickly dispatched to the search area being aware of the tidal risks in this area.
“Those that know the Morecambe Bay area will know how quickly and treacherous these areas are with deep gullies and fast tides.
“The vulnerable person was luckily located at the lower beach area by a dog walker who shouted for assistance, and a coastguard rescue officer quickly went to that location to find a distressed person who had obviously been in mud and water for some considerable time and starting to suffer the effects of cold.
“The person on the 999 call was already up to their waste in mud and water and this person was located by a search team just as the mud and water released the casualty and he was recovered back to the promenade.
“The third casualty was also located safe and well, but just about to be cut off by the incoming tide.”
All three casualties where recovered to the promenade area where one was handed over to the care of North West Ambulance and taken to Blackpool Hospital.
A crew from Fleetwood Lifeboat was also launched to provide safety cover and to assist with the searches, while Knott-End coastguards were also paged to provide flanked team support.