JONNY PHILLIPS: This quaint English village might look like the perfect place for cream teas and picnics on the beach. But it harbors a deadly secret. The whole area is covered with dangerous patches of quicksand.
JONNY PHILLIPS: When water floods into sand it forces the sand particles apart causing the ground to loosen, what's left is a soggy combination of the two that can no longer support as much weight, so when you stand on it you start to sink.
JONNY PHILLIPS: I want to find out if it's actually possible to get out of quicksand. And to do that I'm gonna have to get in it.
JONNY PHILLIPS: But I'm not going anywhere around here without the help of the professionals.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Hi George, how you doing?
GEORGE: Alright Jon.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Pleased to meet you.
GEORGE: And you.
JONNY PHILLIPS: How long have you been a Coastguard in the area?
GEORGE: 24 years.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Right, but you, you're a proper expert in quick sand, you're...
GEORGE: I am yeah, we are number one round here for quick sand rescue, yeah.
JONNY PHILLIPS: You're the right man to be in charge of this demonstration.
GEORGE: Yeah, we'll look after you.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Alright, that's, that's good to hear. Do I need any special kit or anything?
GEORGE: I don't think you'll do it like that, you might frighten the fish, I think we'd better go and get a suit on.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Alright, excellent, cheers.
JONNY PHILLIPS: To keep me dry and warm I put on a totally watertight dry suit, normally worn by divers. ..... Dry suit on and I was ready to go, but, as I walked out across the bay, I started to feel a tad nervous about my impending descent into the unknown.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Alright George, this looks like the right kind of stuff...
JONNY PHILLIPS: ...shall I just um, just step into it then?
GEORGE: Have a go in that one.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Ok, oh, here we go. I'm trusting you. I'm not just gonna disappear though am I?
GEORGE: No, no, you're not...
JONNY PHILLIPS: Sink like a stone.
GEORGE: ...you're not gonna disappear.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Right, I appear to be sinking, oh my goodness me.
JONNY PHILLIPS: I was sinking fast and my weight was pushing the water away from the sand creating a vacuum around my legs and pulling me south.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Ok, I'm starting to feel a little bit uncomfortable about the whole situation now.
JONNY PHILLIPS: I could feel the pressure of the sand against me, and as much as I tried, I just couldn't move my legs.
JONNY PHILLIPS: I'm gonna stop going down aren't I?
JONNY PHILLIPS: Before I knew it, I was in deep. It had only taken 8 minutes for me to sink down to my waist.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Why aren't there signs around this specific area here saying you know, danger quicksand don't walk here?
GEORGE: Well that'd work today, tomorrow all this won't be quicksand it will have moved.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Right.
GEORGE: And it moves day in, day out, via the tidal movement.
JONNY PHILLIPS: So what could I possibly do to get out of this situation if you weren't here George, because I feel completely helpless?
GEORGE: Well the first thing you're gonna do in the real situation is shout and scream and go mad, but er, the book says sit down, lie down. And if you sit down or lie down all you're doing is making your footprint bigger for your weight so it does work in certain circumstances where you can lie back and just let the uh, body float.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Right. George it doesn't seem to be doing anything.
GEORGE: No you're quite a way in, plus the fact it looks a fair thick mix of uh, quicksand that.
JONNY PHILLIPS: God it feels really solid, and there's nothing I can do like wiggling my legs or...
GEORGE: If you, if you wiggle you'll just go further in.
JONNY PHILLIPS: I can really feel the pressure now, I mean that feels like, yeah, really solid.
GEORGE: Yeah, it, it does get to the stage where it stops the blood flow, so you don't want to be in there too long.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Well I'm stuck fast and there's no way I'm getting out on my own, and to be honest with you I'm starting to feel a bit uncomfortable about the whole situation, so if you wouldn't mind getting me out George that'd be marvellous.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Although the coastguard team was here with me, I was scared stiff. To pull one leg free from this stuff requires the amount of force needed to lift a small car, so I had no idea how they were gonna get me out. ..... They started to flood the sand around my legs with water whilst frantically digging away with their hands. I felt like I was stuck in concrete.
COASTGUARD: Ah, there we go.
JONNY PHILLIPS: What about the other leg, that's the...
GEORGE: We'll get that, we'll get them out one at a time.
JONNY PHILLIPS: After frantically working for 10 minutes, they finally freed one leg, but my other was still wedged hard and I was starting to get tired. Such intense pressure on your legs can cause deep vein thrombosis. ..... I'm only submerged to my hips. If you're unlucky enough to go down as far as your neck, then there's a good chance that the pressure on your chest could prevent you from breathing properly, and believe me, whilst all this is happening, the last thing you need is to be short of breath.
JONNY PHILLIPS: Aghhhh
GEORGE: Stick your arm round me... [inaudible]
JONNY PHILLIPS: Alright, ahhh, cheers boys. I ca..., that is the most horrendous thing I've ever done in my life.
JONNY PHILLIPS: So, will you die if you get stuck in quicksand? If Tarzan isn't about and the coastguard's nowhere in sight, then I don't really fancy your chances, so tread carefully.