HM Coastguard UK https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/ To search, to rescue, to save en Tue, 16 Jul 2024 07:40:33 +0100 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 16:47:39 +0100 Meet Your Coastguards: Crosby Coastguard Rescue Team https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/news/meet-your-coastguards-crosby-coastguard-rescue-team Meet Your Coastguards takes us around the United Kingdom, meeting the ordinary volunteers that do extraordinary work to keep our coastline safe. https://hmcoastguard.uk/node/602 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 16:47:39 +0100 HM Coastguard UK The coastal town of Crosby lies within the Merseyside area of Liverpool, with stirring sea views giving way to artist Sir Antony Gormley’s installation artwork and the Seaforth windfarm.   

The Crosby Coastguard Rescue Team (CRT) covers the wider Merseyside area, from Formby to Warrington, and includes 11 Coastguard Rescue Officers, a Station Officer, and a Deputy Station Officer.  

We spoke to Crosby Station Officer Garry, and Coastguard Rescue Officers Phillip and Damien. 

Why did you join HM Coastguard?

Originally from Prestwich in Manchester, Coastguard Rescue Officer Damien says his hometown isn’t exactly known for its maritime connections. However, he’s been a UK-based scuba diver for almost 20 years and after moving to Crosby in 2017, it felt like a good way to give back to the community and become more involved in local events. “The coastguard offers an opportunity to learn new skills and adapt old ones, and being part of supportive team is a big attraction,” he says.  

Fellow CRO Phillip joined the coastguard so that he could free up his house for his wife, a registered childminder. He says: “There was no peace and quiet in my house during my time at home from my main job as a rope access supervisor offshore on oil and gas platforms.” 

Station Officer Garry joined the coastguard after seeing a rescue unfold on TV. It caught his interest, and as a lover of the coast, he felt a strong maritime connection. Somewhat serendipitously, he noticed an HM Coastguard rescue vehicle in the car park at his work, and soon discovered that the Deputy Station officer worked in the same building! After a chat, he was volunteering to join.

 



Damien, Coastguard Rescue Officer with Crosby CRT

 

What is the most unusual incident you have attended? 

For Garry, it was a case of mistaken identity, when the crew were tasked to search for a missing person, which later turned out to be an inflatable doll. “Liverpool is a popular place for stag and hen do’s,” he jokes.  

Damian is quick to point out that no two jobs are the same, with any shout having the potential to be unusual. He particularly recalls an older lady whose mobility scooter had ran out of battery a mile along a coastal path during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

He says: “It was during the pandemic, and it was her first time out on a new scooter her family had bought her. Her funny comments really helped to lighten the mood at what was such a busy time for our team.” 

Phillip remembers when he was waved down by an agitated member of the public who was concerned about a lost animal, which turned out to be a homing pigeon! 

What is the most unusual place you’ve been when your pager has gone off? 

“When you’re a Coastguard Rescue Officer, your pager knows no boundaries! We are a busy team, and at the height of the summer we can have back-to-back jobs all day and night,” says Damian.  

“Missed birthdays, parties and family events are all part of the role. Without supportive families, we couldn’t do what we do,” he adds.  

For Garry, these interruptions of ordinary daily life have become exactly that – ordinary. His wife no longer really notices when he dashes out mid-meal. “I can come back in after being out for several hours over night and she says “Oh, have you been on a shout?” he adds.  

Phillip adds that for him, a pager going off while tied to a rooftop chimney pressure washing could well be the winner.

 



Garry, Station Officer with Crosby CRT

What is the most challenging part of your role? 

“Personalities and their differences can be a challenge to manage,” says Garry. As Station Officer, it’s his role to help find common ground between team members and shape the team into a skilled, strong, and effective unit.  

“Understandably, handling fatalities on the coast is both physically and emotionally challenging,” says Damien. “As a team, we support and encourage each other to be open about any difficult thoughts, and we prepare ourselves while attending to these incidents.” 

“There’s also the difficult task of getting a good night’s sleep after the excitement of a tasking”, adds Phillip, who sometimes struggles to recover the day after.  

Which local beach is your favourite and why? 

Garry and Phillip’s favourite beach is Crosby’s own. They both say that the team are very lucky to have such a nice vista so close to the station. “I can sit at the station and look at the scenery, with the Welsh hills in the background,” Garry shares.  

For Damian, Crosby beach’s sandy dunes, which harbour the remains of a war-era anti-aircraft battery, are a great place to walk his dog. His favourite time here is early spring, when the beach is quiet and the air is crisp.  

What do you enjoy most about being a member of the team? 

“We’re a group of like-minded individuals who enjoy being out and about in the coastal environment. We do a serious role, and we do respond to people in distress, but it is always done from a caring point of view,” says Damian.  

The team puts great emphasis on looking out for itself too: making sure that emotional and physical wellbeing is always carefully considered and checked on after callouts. It’s made stronger by the support given between the team, both as officers and as friends.  

“I really enjoy the team spirit and we have people from all walks of life and professions who all come together to form the team,” says Garry, while Phillip relishes the banter between a team that always make sure everyone gets home safe.

 



Damien and Phillip during a mud exercise on Crosby Beach

What new skills have you learned as a CRO? 

Searching for vulnerable missing people is a large part of what Coastguard Rescue Teams do, using training that gives Coastguard Rescue Officers the confidence to search in either urban or rural settings, day or night. 

Damian says: “We could be deployed to an isolated beach in the middle of the night during one job, and in a busy city dockland the next. We search with the sole purpose of bringing individuals home safely.”  

“I’m a trained in mud rescue, so I really enjoy getting out in those conditions, but the main thing for me is to have learned to be patient, and how to deal with pressure,” adds Phillip.  

Garry suggests that there are many useful skills that officers gain over their time with the coastguard, though most notably these include: team leadership, incident management and communications, knots (lots of knots) and technical rescue skills. 

When you’re not working or volunteering as a CRO, what do you enjoy doing? 

Damian’s a keen scuba diver and is happiest while trekking around the UK coastline in the summer, or exploring the Lakes, Pennines, and Peak District in Winter.  

Garry, meanwhile, loves nothing more than to get out and about on his two scooters, a Vespa and a Lambretta. When he’s not on shift, Phillip enjoys his free time relaxing with his wife and two dogs.   

What do you do for a living? 

Garry works for the Health and Safety Executive, while Damian is a psychiatric nurse working to help under 18’s living with severe mental health problems. Phillip runs an offshore rope access company and a pressure washing business while ashore.

 

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HM Coastguard launches new ‘Coast Clever’ summer safety campaign https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/news/hm-coastguard-launches-new-coast-clever-summer-safety-campaign HM Coastguard has launched its latest ‘Coast Clever’ summer safety campaign to remind people how to stay safe and avoid the dangers and hazards at the coast. https://hmcoastguard.uk/node/601 Fri, 12 Jul 2024 15:42:15 +0100 HM Coastguard UK HM Coastguard's new ‘Coast Clever’ summer safety campaign includes a new film with singer and comedian Arthur Hill, who finds out that it’s not funny to get cut off by the tide or caught out on cliffs. 

The campaign addresses four common risks at the coast;  

Tidal cut off; being surrounded by the sea when the tide comes in Offshore winds; winds that blow you from the land out to sea  Stuck in mud; being trapped in mud or soft sand  Cliff slips and falls  

The short Coast Clever film follows comedian Arthur as he takes up an invitation from HM Coastguard to discover for himself how to stay safe on the coast. He meets a coastguard rescue officer on a small pebbly beach at the base of a cliff. The scenario was that the tide was coming in and if he were cut off, he would need to be rescued. He bravely accepted the challenge to take part in his simulated rescue and scaled nearly 100 metres (over 300ft) of cliff in the capable hands of one of HM Coastguard’s highly trained specialist rope rescue teams.  

“I said I wanted to hang out, but this isn’t what I meant” quipped Arthur as he ascended the cliff. Arriving at the top and out of breath, Arthur said “It was a lot tougher than I thought it would be and I’d quite like it not to happen again.” He took some friendly safety advice on all common types of coastal hazards from Coastguard Rescue Officer Tim and admitted it had been a lesson learned.  

HM Coastguard was alerted to over 37,500 incidents in 2023, a 12% increase in incidents over the last four years. HM Coastguard responded to over 2,000 call outs to incidents of people getting cut off by the tide in the last three years. 

New data from the annual UK-wide research commissioned by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, conducted by Assenti Research has shown:  

Only 36% of people perceive getting cut off by tide coming in as one of the biggest risks at the coast. 74% of people admit they think they should check tide times when visiting the coast, but only 35% claimed they actually did on their last visit. 

 Across the UK in 2023, males accounted for 83% of all drownings. Due to this alarming fatality rate in men, this year’s Coast Clever campaign is designed to appeal to ‘lads and dads’ who may be more at risk.  

Survey data also reveals younger men are less likely to call 999 for help in an emergency. 32% of males aged 16-35 would call 999 if they saw someone struggling in the water compared to 45% of males aged 36-plus. 

 

Commenting on the ‘Coast Clever’ campaign, Claire Hughes, Director of His Majesty’s Coastguard said:

“We want everyone to enjoy our fantastic coastline and beaches this summer. The happiest of memories are always made when you and your loved ones stay safe.  

“Every summer, sadly some people don’t take home happy memories. Our latest Coast Clever safety campaign is a timely reminder to encourage people to take some simple safety precautions and of course if anyone is in difficulty to call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

Arthur Hill, singer, comedian and influencer, commented on his involvement: 

“It’s brilliant being part of this campaign to help raise awareness about the real dangers around the coast. During filming, I was surprised at how quickly I could see the tide coming in from the safety of the cliff top. The coastguard rescue teams did a brilliant job of demonstrating what a cliff rescue is like but I certainly wouldn’t want to get caught out and will be checking tide times ahead of my future visits to the coast."

 

HM Coastguard’s top tips to stay safe and have an enjoyable day at the coast:   

 

Check the weather forecast and tide times before you set off  Cliffs can be unstable, so stay clear of cliff edges and bases Watch out for mud and if you do get stuck, lean back to spread your weightAvoid water sports in an offshore wind, when the wind blows from the land out to seaTell someone where you are going and when you’ll be backTake a fully charged mobile phone and consider taking a PLB (personal locator beacon) which alerts the emergency services from the remotest of locations 

In a coastal emergency, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard

Find out more about our Coast Clever Campaign.

 

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Fisher rescued from water shares key safety tips https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/news/fisher-rescued-water-shares-key-safety-tips Wear a personal floatation device, wear a personal locator beacon, and have a phone in a waterproof pouch as an additional way of calling for help, are the key safety messages from a fisher who was rescued from the water. https://hmcoastguard.uk/node/600 Wed, 19 Jun 2024 11:50:47 +0100 HM Coastguard UK On 27 March 2023, Ashley Wright was fishing near Plymouth when his boat started to sink.

Ashley was rescued as part of a coastguard response and is sharing his experience, to encourage fishers to be prepared and safe at sea, and know what to do in an emergency.

Watch his story here:

 

 

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Sea cave rescuers honoured on anniversary of ‘inspirational’ operation https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/news/sea-cave-rescuers-honoured-anniversary-inspirational-operation Volunteer coastguard rescue officers (CROs) who played their part in saving two young people swept into a cave on the Cornish coast were presented with an official thank you to mark the one-year anniversary of the extraordinary operation. https://hmcoastguard.uk/node/599 Wed, 22 May 2024 08:58:04 +0100 HM Coastguard UK Portreath and St Agnes Coastguard Rescue Teams (CRTs) were visited by the Chief Executive of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Virginia McVea, who praised them for their actions on 22 May 2023. 

The alarm was raised that day by a 999 call at about 6.10pm with a report of two young adults caught by the tide on a rock 30 metres from the shore in Bassets Cove, near Portreath, before later becoming stuck in a cave. 

Led by Senior Coastal Operations Officer Marc Thomas, the CROs soon arrived at the clifftop and tried to use rope and water rescue techniques but the swells were too severe. 



Coastguard Rescue Officers arrived from St Agnes and Portreath

A man was recovered from the water but a woman remained trapped. With CROs stationed by the cave mouth, repeated efforts were made to reach her by HM Coastguard search and rescue helicopters from Newquay and St Athan. 

Eventually the conditions relented and the tide allowed a CRO and a winch paramedic to enter the cave and bring the woman to safety. She was flown by helicopter to the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro and both casualties made a full recovery. 

HM Coastguard was joined in the response by RNLI lifeboats, Devon and Cornwall Police, and South Western Ambulance Service. 

On the one-year anniversary of the rescue, Virginia travelled to St Agnes to meet some of the CROs involved and presented each of them with a letter of appreciation.  

The letters praising the CROs said: “Their heroic efforts stand as a beacon of hope and inspiration, reflecting the noble ideals of search and rescue operations.” 

Virginia commented: “It was an honour to speak with the men and women of Portreath and St Agnes CRTs. They were such an important part of a multi-agency operation that successfully saved two people from terrible danger.  

“They were trained and ready to be there for these two people in their darkest hour. We are very grateful for the efforts of the Coastguard Rescue Service in Cornwall and right around the UK.”  

Virginia was joined by Assistant Chief Coastguard (England and Wales) Carl Evans, and Divisional Commander James Instance. 

James added: “These were incredibly challenging circumstances and there was huge uncertainty around what had happened to the woman. The teams did themselves and HM Coastguard proud.” 

Discover more about the Bassetts Cove rescue here. 

Find out how to apply to become a coastguard rescue officer here. 

 

Letter of appreciation: 

The Portreath and St Agnes Coastguard Rescue Teams demonstrated exceptional dedication and resilience during the challenging rescue at Basset’s Cove Portreath on May 22, 2023. They played a vital role in successfully extracting two stranded members of public from an isolated cove amidst rising tides and heavy swells, where they had been forced to enter a cave for their safety.  

One casualty was promptly airlifted to Royal Cornwall Hospital by HM Coastguard Helicopter 924, while the other endured over four harrowing hours trapped in a cave. Utilising rope and water rescue techniques, the teams stationed themselves at the cave entrance, providing unwavering support as HM Coastguard Helicopter 187 tirelessly worked to reach the trapped individual. 

Their collaborative efforts with RNLI Lifeboats, SWAST Ambulance, and Police, with support from the Duty Coastal Officer Marc Thomas, showcased their remarkable devotion to duty. Despite facing adversity, they efficiently utilised all available resources to ensure the safety of the stranded individuals. 

The Portreath and St Agnes Coastguard Rescue Teams played a pivotal role in the successful rescue, demonstrating the highest standards of service upheld by HM Coastguard. Their resilience and commitment earned admiration and gratitude from all involved. 

In recognition of their outstanding service, the Portreath and St Agnes Coastguard Rescue Teams and Senior Coastal Operations Officer Marc Thomas are wholeheartedly commended. 

Their heroic efforts stand as a beacon of hope and inspiration, reflecting the noble ideals of search and rescue operations.

 

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Celebrating importance and impact of women in HM Coastguard https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/news/celebrating-importance-and-impact-women-hm-coastguard 'We, as strong women, definitely have something to bring to the party' https://hmcoastguard.uk/node/598 Fri, 17 May 2024 13:42:13 +0100 HM Coastguard UK From successful rescue missions to working with their “second family”, members of HM Coastguard, from all over the UK, are celebrating their roles and experiences within the maritime industry.

As part of International Day for Women in Maritime, they are also recognising the importance of more women joining the sector and its impact.

International Day for Women in Maritime (18 May), is an opportunity to highlight the achievements of women in maritime, as well as identifying areas of improvement for gender equality. 

Bex Owen, Karen Mackenzie, Olivia Letchford and Molly Luke have been part of HM Coastguard for a number of years, and all believe this is a day worth marking. Not only to recognise how far the Coastguard and wider Maritime and Coastguard Agency has come, but to encourage more women to follow suit. 

Bex has been the Senior Coastal Operations Officer across the coast of south Wales for three years and, off the northeast coast of England, Molly is Station Officer for the unique Holy Island Coastguard Rescue Team.

At opposite ends of the country, Karen, who started her coastguard journey in 2022, is a Coastguard Rescue Officer for Stornoway in the Western Isles of Scotland, and Olivia a Coastguard Rescue Officer for Hayling Island in the depths of Hampshire, follows in her father’s footsteps.  

Here are their insights into being part of HM Coastguard:

What made you want to join HM Coastguard?

Bex (pictured left): I have had a love of the coast from a young age. As a keen surfer and volunteer crew member for the RNLI, and ex HART Paramedic, when a fulltime position became available in HM Coastguard, it was a no brainer for me. The opportunity to spend my working day at the coast in a search and rescue capacity felt like the right decision.

Karen: Living in a coastal community I often saw Coastguard activity and training happening around the islands, and I was just really interested in the range of work the Coastguard does. It’s so much part of island life and I really wanted to get involved to support their work.

Molly: I wanted to join HM Coastguard specifically because Holy Island relies heavily on the team. Being a tidal island we are cut off from the mainland twice a day and the Coastguard is the only available emergency service for locals and visitors. We want to provide locals a peace of mind that in an emergency, we are not too far away.

Olivia: My dad has been in the Coastguard for almost 30 years both as a volunteer, as well as some time in the ops room at Lee-on-the-Solent. He’s been doing it longer than I have been alive so I grew up with it! When I was little I was fascinated by it and always wanted to know what he got up to on call outs. That passion stayed with me as I grew up and at 19-years-old I decided to join myself and work alongside dad in the team.

Is it important to mark International Day for Women in Maritime and the role of women in HM Coastguard?

Bex: International Day for Women in Maritime allows us to show how far we have come. I take pride in being a role model and paving the way for additional females to feel able to apply for roles, that were once very much thought of as a man’s job. I am a firm believer in the right person for the right job and we, as strong women, definitely have something to bring to the party.

Karen (pictured right): It’s important to showcase how much HM Coastguard has progressed in recognising the skills and experience that women can bring to Coastguard Rescue Teams across the country. It's an opportunity to spotlight and celebrate the many women who serve in teams that were traditionally male-dominant.  

Molly: I think it's important to mark a day that celebrates women in any field. I'm in a lucky position that my team is led by women, my Deputy Station Officer is female and I have a great balance of women on my team. We love women supporting women and by marking International Day for Women in Maritime, we hope we can give other women the confidence to find out more about roles in the service. 

Olivia: Maritime used to be a male-dominated industry. In recent years, more and more women have been involved in maritime and I think it is important that we celebrate this. I am lucky to work alongside a number of great, inspiring women from local teams.

What’s the best thing about being a part of HM Coastguard? 

Bex: I enjoy being part of such an effective team, from us at area management, to all the volunteers we work with. I get job satisfaction from seeing the teams put their training into practice and saving lives on the coast. 

Karen: Despite the difficult incidents we encounter, it's fun being part of the team and being encouraged to develop your skills during training and on shouts. Nothing beats getting down to the station with the team when the pager goes, feeling like you're part of the Coastguard family, and being able to harness that team rapport to respond to operational incidents. 

Molly (pictured below with team): It doesn't matter what kind of shout you are sent to, but you know there will always be someone there that will have your back, someone you can have a good laugh with.

Olivia: I love the camaraderie you get in a Coastguard Rescue team. They are like a second family.
 


What has been a highlight or memorable moment during your time with HM Coastguard?

Bex: I have had numerous memorable moments. We completed a rope exercise at Devils Cauldron in west Wales, the satisfaction of going over the edge at such a high location was amazing. 

Karen: One of my more memorable moments in my first year was spending Hogmanay at the hospital to assist one of the Coastguard helicopters with a casualty transfer, thinking we were going to bring in the New Year there. 

Olivia (pictured below): I was involved in a major evacuation in Selsey where we helped more than 150 people affected by flooding throughout the night. There were so many of us there and we all kept each other going. It didn’t matter which emergency service we were from - we all looked out for each other and worked well to help everyone get to safety. That was by far the largest call out I have ever been on and is certainly one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

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Out of range but not out of touch – Alan’s rescue https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/news/out-range-not-out-touch-alans-rescue One slip on a remote snowy mountain left Alan unable to move with a broken leg, very alone and facing a night shivering in a survival bag. With no one around and no mobile phone signal, how did he raise the alarm? https://hmcoastguard.uk/node/593 Tue, 07 May 2024 14:04:51 +0100 HM Coastguard UK It had been the perfect April day for experienced walker Alan. But one slip changed all that in seconds, leaving him with a broken leg and very alone in a remote, snowy location with darkness fast approaching. He needed help, fast. 

Adding to an already serious situation was the lack of mobile phone signal and no people or roads within sight. Alan is a planner and although he was out of range, he was not out of touch. He was carrying a key piece of equipment that’s similar to a personal locator beacon (PLB), it meant he could immediately alert the emergency services.  

PLBs are widely available and they are satellite-synced so they will work from anywhere in the world – on land or sea. They transmit the alert and your location directly to government SAR (Search and Rescue) entities via the COSPAS-SARSAT network. Alan’s own commercially-available device operates in a similar way using commercial satellites.    

When Alan fell and heard a sickening crack in his leg, he knew walking the remaining seven kilometres was impossible. He was on a mountain in the Scottish Highlands, a few miles east of Ben Nevis.  

Tracker activated and rescuers were on the way

He activated his tracker just after 4pm and in under ten minutes, Alan knew that a rescue plan was under way. Police Scotland had been informed and the Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team was alerted. But because of his injury and difficulty accessing the remote location, HM Coastguard was asked to help and the search and rescue helicopter from Inverness went to his aid. He was airlifted to Inverness where he was met by the local Coastguard Rescue Team and transferred into the care of the Scottish Ambulance Service and onwards to hospital.  

Investment in an alerting system is worth its weight in gold

Following two operations on his leg, Alan is now recovering at home and very thankful that he had planned for the best but also prepared for the worst. 

He said: 

“I love the outdoors and remote locations but when you’re away from civilisation with no mobile phone signal, it’s potentially more dangerous. You never know when bad luck is going to strike. That day it was my turn.

“I always take safety kit seriously and my investment in an alerting system saved lots of extra worry and being able to get a direct text to my wife to tell her I was safe was an enormous help in a difficult situation. It also meant I spent a night in hospital rather than shivering in a survival bag on a mountain! It’s worth its weight in gold,” he added. 

PLB-type devices will work where mobile phones don't

Fiona Hastie, Coastal Operations Area Commander for the North of Scotland area said: “Alan was really well prepared but he’s the living proof that accidents can happen anywhere and at any time and we’re pleased that he’s now recovering well.   

“If you’re in difficulties, being able to call the emergency services and let them know where you are, can be a matter of life or death. Around our coasts, there are significant pockets where there’s no mobile signal, so an emergency PLB-type device is definitely worth considering.” 

HM Coastguard operates all civilian search and rescue helicopters in the UK. Our helicopters are regularly called out to incidents on the water and along the coast, as well as helping with inland rescues where a helicopter is needed, such as mountain rescues.  

What we do | HM Coastguard UK 

 

Tech to help keep you safe

Take a look at some of the many ways that technology can help keep you safe 

 

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Windfarm research the springboard for global search and rescue expertise https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/news/windfarm-research-springboard-global-search-and-rescue-expertise The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has become a global expert in the research and development of search and rescue operations around windfarms at sea. https://hmcoastguard.uk/node/591 Wed, 24 Apr 2024 15:55:16 +0100 HM Coastguard UK As part of the MCA, HM Coastguard has been working on the subject with international emergency response partners, as the offshore wind industry expands around the world, and has become an authority on responding to incidents within or near offshore installations.  



Pete Lowson

That capability is thanks, in part, to a dedicated team which is working in collaboration with industry, scientists and public bodies to refine procedures within a changing offshore landscape.  

Lifesaving research has been initiated to enhance the vital skill of calculating where wind and tide in different conditions are likely to carry vessels, life rafts or people, known as drift-modelling.   

Drift-modelling is a technical method that harnesses an array of information, with the support of computer programmes, to guide search and rescue teams looking for those in distress.   

The research is set to be used in updates to the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue manual (IAMSAR) – a document containing best-practice guidelines used around the world. 

Pete Lowson, HM Coastguard Offshore Energy Lead, explained: “Distress calls at sea can occur in a variety of different maritime locations and environments, ranging from coastal areas to incidents far from land. 

“When the alarm is raised, staff at our Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres will often use drift-modelling to plot the most likely areas to send help, such as lifeboats, nearby vessels, and HM Coastguard helicopters.  

“Offshore windfarms are no different and this research is refining our understanding of how the forces of nature – wind and tide – affect drift within and around them. It is exciting to contribute to vital work with a global interest which could save lives.”  

Past incidents have involved vessels going off course into windfarms, as well as jetskis, paddleboarders and swimmers.   



Julia Stringer

HM Coastguard’s safety advice to the public around windfarms is the same as for any trip out on the water involving small or larger craft: plan your activity, reduce the risks, and in an emergency call 999 for Coastguard or send a mayday call on VHF Channel 16.  

Windfarm guidance has also been produced by the MCA both for offshore companies and seafarers. 

HM Coastguard’s ongoing research is expanding a vast dataset of drift calculations, with experiments at windfarms to track objects such as dummies, dinghies, life rafts and paddleboards.  

Information-gathering has been boosted by the US Coast Guard supporting these tests by contributing hi-tech buoys and sensors capable of measuring the separate effects of wind and current. 

The US technology helped with measurements taken in 2022 at the Race Bank windfarm off the coast of Grimsby during Exercise Sancho, a major safety rehearsal held jointly every three years between the emergency services, search and rescue teams, and industry representatives.

Further research was carried out in March 2023 at Triton Knoll and Humber Gateway windfarms, and more recently in March 2024 off the coast of Brighton at Rampion windfarm.  

HM Coastguard Offshore Energy Officer Julia Stringer said: “We already have principles and guidance for search and rescue operations at windfarms, and this extra data will go towards refining and upgrading how we continue to respond.  

“When time is of the essence, knowing where people in distress are most likely to be is a vital component in the search and rescue toolkit. This is lifesaving data.” 

 

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Maritime and Coastguard Agency documentary ready to return to TV screens https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/news/maritime-and-coastguard-agency-documentary-ready-return-tv-screens The wait is nearly over for fans of the hit Channel 5 documentary Coastguard: Search and Rescue SOS as the brand-new second series is primed to air at 8pm on Sunday 28 April. https://hmcoastguard.uk/node/590 Wed, 24 Apr 2024 11:44:35 +0100 HM Coastguard UK The first outing in 2023 attracted more than 5 million viewers. Now the show is returning for another eagerly anticipated run of real-life stories about the people working for the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) and the public who find themselves in danger by the coast and at sea.  

The series of six weekly episodes will feature round-the-clock emergency response operations by HM Coastguard, with cameras capturing staff from maritime rescue coordination centres, coastguard rescue teams, and search and rescue helicopters – always on alert to respond to people in need of help. 



Chris Bradshaw, Winch Paramedic 

The spotlight also shines on other important work of the MCA such as the surveyors and investigators who carry out their own lifesaving duties, ensuring ships are safe to sail and upholding the rules to protect seafarers, passengers and UK waters. 

In one episode the father of a young passenger killed in a speed boat crash in Poole harbour tells of his family’s loss. Cameras follow MCA investigators working with Dorset Police on the case which ultimately ends up in court. 



Stephanie George, Team Leader at Holyhead Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre

Viewers will see dramatic rescues such as an 85-year-old woman cut off by the tide in Wales; two people swept into a sea cave in Cornwall; and how HM Coastguard joined the response to Storm Babet as it lashed Scotland.  

Decisions are also made by the MCA surveyors – the behind-the-scenes lifesavers – about whether the vessels they inspect are safe to leave port or must be detained for the welfare of seafarers. 



Chris Bates, Surveyor

MCA Chief executive Virginia McVea said: “We’re very grateful to the volunteers and staff of the MCA who took part in filming this incredibly engaging and eye-opening programme – and for the members of the public who told their stories too.  

“The series gives a behind the scenes look at what we do at the MCA, day in day out, to keep people safe – whether on the search and rescue frontline with HM Coastguard, or with our surveyors and investigators working hard to enforce safety standards. 

“We are proud to be one of the UK’s four emergency services. I hope viewers gain a deeper insight into what we do and how they can stay safe. Remember, if you’re in trouble by the coast or at sea call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.” 

Interested in joining the Maritime and Coastguard Agency?  

Check out the jobs here or apply to become an HM Coastguard volunteer here. 

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Girl rescued from between a rock and a hard place https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/news/girl-rescued-between-rock-and-hard-place It was a race against tide and time for HM Coastguard and fellow emergency services to rescue a young child who was trapped in rock armour at Tywyn beach in North Wales. https://hmcoastguard.uk/node/588 Tue, 23 Apr 2024 09:29:49 +0100 HM Coastguard UK HM Coastguard received the 999 call from a member of the public at around 3.15pm on Sunday 21 April and quickly dispatched multiple emergency services teams and specialists to safely rescue the child from a dangerous and challenging situation.  

The youngster was stuck between the large, heavy boulders and the tide was coming in quickly. 

Skilled teams in HM Coastguard’s Holyhead Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre (MRCC) coordinated the rescue.  

It involved Aberdyfi and Barmouth Coastguard Rescue Teams, North Wales Fire and Rescue Service, the Welsh Ambulance Service, air ambulance doctors and assistance from a local excavator. North Wales Police was also in support at the scene. 

 

 

The child was extracted safe and well in a delicate operation that took nearly three hours, with more than 30 expert rescuers working closely together. 

It was a big relief for the teams and a prime example of teamwork in action, said Harriet McCann, Maritime Operations Team Leader at Holyhead MRCC. 

She explained: “This rescue was challenging for everyone. It was definitely time-critical as it was only a matter of hours before the tide was due to reach the rocks. 

“Without exception, everyone pulled together in a textbook example of teamwork. There was a massive sense of relief when the young child was freed and able to go home after a very scary experience. 

“It’s why we do what we do and we’d like to say a huge thank you to our emergency services colleagues for the incredible teamwork which resulted in the lifesaving rescue. That’s the best feeling of all and a moment that will stay in our memories.” 

The child was freed using specialist machinery to move the rock armour, working closely with medical and other services at the scene. 

 

 

Rocks and safety 

Rock armour consists of large boulders for protection against the sea and can be dangerous. 

It’s easy to slip and become trapped.  

Always follow the local safety signs and avoid walking on rock armour if possible. 

If you see anyone in difficulty at the coast, call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.  

 

(Photo credits: Lee Bell, Aberdyfi CRT)

 

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Wind, rain and floods - Staying safe during stormy weather https://hmcoastguard.co.uk/news/wind-rain-and-floods-staying-safe-during-stormy-weather 'We know it’s always tempting to get that bit closer to a wave or cliff edge, but it isn’t worth risking your life' https://hmcoastguard.uk/node/586 Tue, 09 Apr 2024 13:57:32 +0100 HM Coastguard UK As wet and windy weather continues to hit the UK, HM Coastguard is urging the public to remain as safe and prepared as possible. 

Coastguard Rescue Teams are always ready to respond to those in need, but it is important to know the risks and dangers that come with extreme weather and how to protect yourself. 

The Met Office has issued yellow weather warnings across the UK this week (8 to 10 April), with intense wind and rain starting along the southern coast and making its way up and across the country. Flood warnings remain in place with some places already badly affected.

A combination of high winds and high tides has resulted in flooding and evacuations in Sussex and Hampshire overnight, 8 April. HM Coastguard has been working with partners around-the-clock to assist with this emergency response. 

As the poor weather continues, the coastguard is reminding those visiting the coast to stay away from waves and cliff edges.

Joint Rescue Coordination Centre Commander for Maritime Tom Pederson said: “We know it’s always tempting to get that bit closer to a wave or cliff edge, but it isn’t worth risking your life. Especially in this kind of weather. 

“We are experiencing poor weather all across the UK with extreme flooding, so we need everyone to stay safe and, just as importantly, know what to do in an emergency. If you find yourself in trouble call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”

Weather safety tips:

Is it safe to go out?

It’s always sensible to check the latest weather advice from the Met Office

Don’t drive and drown

People have died driving through roads flooded by sea or rain. One foot (30cm) can be enough to carry a car into danger

Stay off groynes, piers and harbour walls

If you can feel the spray, you’re too close. Don’t be a ‘wave tourist’ – a selfie’s not worth the risk

Cliffs crumble in heavy rain

Steer clear of the edge and base of cliffs at all times, but particularly during or after heavy rainfall

Watch out for wind

Storm winds can gust suddenly by the coast, throwing debris or pushing watercraft into trouble. Steer clear of exposed places

 

Photo Credit: Eddie Mitchell

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