In less than half an hour our amazing colleague Andy Reid can go from looking after the fruit and veg in our Dalgety Bay store to rescuing people who’ve got into trouble in the Firth of Forth.
Andy’s a member of the local Coastguard and a specialist in helping people cut off by tide and stuck in the mud.
He’s been given special permission to combine his Asda and Coastguard roles and carries a pager with him at all times so he can respond to emergencies.
Andy’s trained to wade through dangerous mud carrying a stretcher and medical supplies to reach people in difficulty in the Firth of Forth, near the famous rail and road bridges.
One notorious spot is Cramond Island. It’s one mile out from the coast and can be reached on foot at low tide – but it’s easy for people to lose track of the time and find themselves stranded when the tide comes in and covers the causeway.
Andy, who’s 51, said: "I always wanted to do something to help the local community … and Asda have been great in giving me the flexibility to do this.
“When I joined the store ten years ago I’d already been working for the Coastguard for a couple of years. So I asked Asda whether I was able to carry a pager and respond to emergencies when at work, and they were absolutely fine about it – very flexible.
“It all started when I mentioned I wanted to do something for the community to a friend who was in the Coastguard. He said ‘Why don’t you join?’, so I went through lots of training and qualified.
“If the pager goes off, I stop what I’m doing, let my duty manager know I’m leaving and drive to either Kinghorn or Queensferry Coastguard stations which are about 15 minutes’ drive away.
“I’m a mud technician which literally means I’m trained to rescue people who have got stuck in mud on the coast.
“Recently we rescued a woman and her two young boys who were stuck in the mud. If they’re close enough for us to reach, we put waders on which mean we don’t get stuck ourselves.
“We then go out – a minimum of two of us – and pull them out. It’s tough going, especially on a hot day, as you’re carrying a stretcher and all of your equipment too. You have to be pretty fit.
“If it’s too far to walk we go out in the lifeboat, get as close as we can, pull them out then bring them back ashore in the lifeboat.
“We also rescue people like climbers who have got into difficulty on the cliffs. I’m on call 24 hours a day so you have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice. So far this year we’ve had 35 callouts.”
Joe Mitchell, Senior Coastal Operations Officer for Fife and Edinburgh Coastguard, said: "We’re very grateful to Asda. We rely on employers being very flexible and allowing their employees to attend rescues of people in trouble at sea or on the coastline.
“Andy is one of a team of 14 who attend to persons injured on the shoreline, boats sinking or people cut off by the tide. He is specifically trained to carry a casualty on a stretcher through mud but gets involved in all manner of other rescues too.
“We get involved in many rescues on the walkway at Cramond Island. We recently helped around 50 people ashore who had been caught out by the tide coming in on the walkway including carrying some of the younger ones that were getting scared, while others were getting exhausted.
“Some were unaware of the tide here and others just lost track of the time. As the weather gets nicer and more people are heading to the coast, remember to call 999 if you see anyone in danger.”
Lynne Harrison, General Store Manager, said: “Andy is a great colleague. His dedication to both the store and the Coastguard is terrific and we’re very happy to support him.”