A SECURITY guard sparked a huge rescue operation after he became stuck thigh-deep in mud during a late-night patrol.
Six fire engines and 24 crew members were scrambled to the site of the new Portobello High School on Thursday.
The night watchman went to investigate after hearing what he thought were intruders, realising too late that it was only dog walkers on the other side of the fence.
The Balfour Beatty worker, thought to be in his 40s, tried desperately to free his leg, but had to call his boss when all efforts failed.
The off-site security supervisor then alerted the emergency services, who launched a full-scale rescue attempt amid fears the man’s life could be in danger.
A spokesman for the fire service said: “At 9.43pm we received a call from the construction site security control stating that there was a man with his leg trapped in the mud.
“Six appliances were sent because of the nature of the incident. We thought it was a possible water rescue.”
But once it became clear the man’s plight was not life-threatening, specialist teams were stood down and the victim was dug out with a shovel.
The man, who was suffering from the effects of cold and rain, was stranded in the mud for around 45 minutes.
Temperatures had been close to freezing and he was checked for hypothermia by ambulances at the scene.
Mike Bridgman, SNP councillor for Portobello, described the incident as “concerning”, adding: “I would hope his employers look at doubling the number of guards on site so there is some sort of resilience measure in place should something go wrong.”
Balfour Beatty, the construction company building the 1400-pupil school, confirmed it was investigating the incident.
A spokesman from the firm said: “While conducting a routine patrol on the site of the new Portobello High School on Thursday night, a security guard became stuck in a stockpile of soft mud, as he was investigating a noise which caused him to leave his designated route.
“On becoming stuck, he called his off-site security supervisor who called the emergency services and came on site to assist.
“On arrival, the emergency services removed him from the mud. While a full investigation is still ongoing, we can confirm that the security guard was checked by emergency services and suffered no injuries.
“We are currently reviewing the processes around the protocols security guards should follow on leaving the agreed routes for patrols.”
Construction work for the £41 million secondary school began in October 2014 after two years of wrangling with locals about building on top of the Portobello Park, which had protected status.