Tuesday, 30 June 2009


Training tonight! I wonder what the boss has in store…. Last time it was Exemplary Rescues (i.e. make it up as you go along - but using the kit within its designed safety tolerances). This involved a Breeches Buoy at the Lighthouse.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Heat wave

With temperatures due to go up over the next few days, not every one will enjoy it.

A level two warning has been issued and you can read more on the NHS website,


Like in the cold weather, elderly neighbours should be checked on regularly and ensure if you are in the sun, you have sun cream and maybe a hat to protect your head.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Another day

Oddly not a lot happened around the area this weekend. Other than being called at 6.30am to go to Dancing Ledge for a couple of chaps reported overdue by their partners basically not a lot happened.

So this afternoon Rid and I decided we would leave the truck in the station and walk......yes that's W A L K, known to a few of the team as a foot patrol.

So it was down Burlington Chine to drop some PR bits off to the cafe and then a walk along getting some strange looks as to who we were. Stopped to speak to John Deare and then to Ocean Bay for refreshments.
Along the sea front, liaising with the Beach wardens, round to the quay and met Roger Marsh and then on to the pier to speak to some youths messing about in a little dinghy, then some children pier jumping and then tried to explain to a couple of divers using a spear gun that perhaps they were a little close to others.

Returning to the station we were stopped by a member of staff from a local nursing home, they had two of their residents missing after an afternoon walk. Thankfully Austen was on the station so sent him round to the nursing home to check with staff whilst we checked along the sea front, however a few minutes later Austen confirmed the pair had returned safe, job done.

So the lack of incidents meant I had to get my shed ready for a coat of paint.

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Sting in the fin

Thankfully yesterday was quiet, surprisingly as the beaches were packed.
Just as we were about to return to the station, someone stopped us asking for some help as their friend had stepped on something in the water and it was hurting.

Having liaised with the beach wardens who had located the male (hopping!) he was taken to the tourist information centre where a quick inspection confirmed he had stepped on a weever fish.

These little creatures lay just in the sand with their sharp fin sticking up ready for that foot to step on it, the 'sting' hurts a lot and the first thing to do is ensure the person is not having a reaction to the sting, then its time to put the kettle on!

No not for a coffee (although the staff at the tourist information centre kindly did make us a drink later).

The treatment for the sting is to put the affected limb into a bowl with the hottest water the person can stand and keep topping the water up for nearly an hour.

Many thanks to today's casualty who kindly allowed his foot to be shown, his comments, " yes it hurts!"

When should you call the Coastguard?

Today I had a nice picnic up at Durlston (until the mist came in), however there was a purpose to the picnic and this was to return a friend to the scene of a little accident.

About a year ago my friend was walking with his family up by the western mile marker when he slipped and hurt his leg, whilst his son's were telling their mother the right thing to do "call seaside rescue!" the mother was adamant that he was OK and making a fuss and for sure they weren't calling anyone as she knew I would turn up!

Having made him walk back to the car at Durlston (just over a mile and up hill) they drove home in a lot of pain which continued until about two days later when giving up he visited a hospital to discover his leg was broken!!!

Several months later and being pushed around in a wheel chair for most of the summer he was finally back on his feet, and believe me, working with his wife I gave her some abuse for not calling us.

Well today and as a little secret we went back to Durlston as the memory was a little sore, the boys had a good look round the truck and even visited the lighthouse, but the icing on the cake was a fly past by Coastguard helicopter which I did claim was arranged (the aircraft had been training but couldn't resist rubbing it in that he could have been air lifted).

So the moral of the story is, just because you know who might rescue you, please call us if you hurt yourself, that's what we are here for.

New Sector Car

The other morning I went to Poole and visited the Sector Office on the quay.

Outside was this interesting car and I could just see the boss driving it. Not sure where the blue light goes?

Friday, 26 June 2009

Hug a Coastguard

In Swanage there is a little shop called Sunshine Ceramics, in there you can paint all sorts of cups and plates .

One of the things you can go is called a "hug mug" which made me think.

If you can hug a mug why can't you hug a Coastguard?

Anyway we hope to be doing some events with Dawn in the near future to promote Sea Safety.


Thursday, 25 June 2009


The other week there were some stories going around that a shark had been sighted off Swanage. A Man-eater! This even made the Dorset Echo.


Well it appeared from the photos taken that it was a Basking Shark which is not uncommon in British Waters although to be fair less common up this way. These fish tend to prefer areas such as Cornwall and the Scilly Isles, Isle of Man, rich in their main food source – zooplankton.

Now I’ve had the privilege of diving with some of these fish off The Lizard in Cornwall and I’ll tell you what they are BIG! Really BIG! What’s perhaps more scary is that they have the same body form as another more infamous Lamniforme Shark – The Great White.

Whilst you know it’s only a Basking Shark, underwater with their mouth closed they look like a Great White, albeit twice the size, and you do have a ‘what if its not’ moment.

This is when you manoeuvre in a non-obvious way to ensure your diving buddy is between you and the shark. Naturally your diving buddy is doing exactly the same to you! Then the shark opens its mouth and it’s blindingly obvious that you are not going to be the entrĂ©e on the a la carte menu.

When you arrive at the surface at the end of the dive you both claim not to have been scared, although later in the pub after a couple of beers both of you admit to ‘pants-ing it!’

Anyway these fish are really beauties and I reckon it’s great to see them off Swanage, even if it’s only for a short period. Despite their size little is known about them so if you see one please report it here http://baskingsharks.wildlifetrusts.org/helpus.php .

Other Links:-




Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Alfie Photos.

Only Austen would perform a rescue in full dress uniform!....tie n all.

Above: Isn't he Cute (The Little Hairy One)

The St Albans Five, the Swanage Three...not forgetting Rid messing around in the background.

...oh ....and the star, Alfie the little dog.

Monday, 22 June 2009

'Alfie' the little dog - 2.

Yesterday afternoon the full team were tasked to a ‘dog over cliff’ up on The Downs above Swanage. A small terrier ‘Alfie’ had gone for a wander and was stuck on the cliff. Alfie was a very safety conscious dog and was wearing a doggy lifejacket – no seriously he was – but sadly was not rigged for climbing.

On arrival one CRO was sent to the bottom of the cliff to advise of Alfie’s positioning while the other members of the team set up. We were joined shortly afterwards by the St Albans Team who brought more CROs to make the number up to 8 which is the minimum for a cliff rescue.

Austen went over as Cliff Man , while I was acting Cliff Top Safety Officer for the first time. Once Austen was over, Alfie decided to test him by running along the cliff face. Luckily with the owner calling his name and Austen waving some dog biscuits Alfie decided to come back over to Austen and was promptly rescued. (The owner had given him a pack of 5 dog biscuits).

Due to a slight mix up in communications with the team on top of the cliff – entirely my fault - Austen got dragged face first through the grass and mud, he held onto the dog though. Sorry for that Oz, my fault, although to be fair it was slightly amusing.

Now I’m no mathematician or CSI forensic scientist but a pack of five dog biscuits went over the cliff and Alfie ate two - but none came back. In my book that means three biscuits went ‘missing in action’. Where could they have gone? A clue might be in the fact that the cliff team who were pulling Austen up by hand said he was a bit heavier than usual. Investigations continue.

So Alfie was safely retuned to his owners, who did the right thing in calling us rather than attempt rescue themselves. We had a team photo at the top with Alfie and once the photo is forwarded by the owners I’ll put it up.

Thanks to St Albans Team for their assistance, Brian for driving around half the town, and Rid for going for a long walk to the bottom of the cliff. Apologies to Austen for the mouthful of grass.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Weekend Up Date

Well the Stations Officers meeting at Poole went well, quick stop at McDonalds on the way to eat, then to office to meet the SO's from St Albans, Poole and Southborne.

1st topic - Swine Flu......then on to the budgets and some operational things. Few issues were discussed around the table and that was about it.

Saturday......Austen went out to see if he could find the "Rave", I left him to it and had a very nice evening at the sailing club summer ball at the golf club. Personally I didn't know I could look so smart. Met lots of people and the topic of the night was most thought I was a full time Coastguard....er yes it may look like that but I do have a "proper job".

Sunday, as Deputy Blog has said little dog over the cliff sadly I was at work and a few others were out of town. I arrived at the station to find Austen writing up the report.

And that's just about been it this weekend....not a lot going on!

'Alfie' the little dog.

Swanage and St Albans Teams were this afternoon called to a 'dog over cliff' incident - Alfie the dog is ok, however Austen is covered in mud. More later......

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Rave Alert

Someone was/is trying to arrange a ‘rave’ somewhere locally tonight, naturally can’t say exactly where, or when. But it would be fair to say that it was a dangerous venue close to the cliffs – not best public safety wise. So Dorset Police have rightly managed to stop it so far. We have a team on standby should it either go ahead or move to another coastal location.

Naturally we won’t be packing our white gloves, cheap cider and glo-sticks or whatever young people do today - is it called ‘glosticking’ – (aka prancing round with a glo stick making pretty shapes) I think so …but dunno for sure, I’m too old (35!)

Above: He'll 'av someone's eye out doing that!

Friday, 19 June 2009


Austen & I are on our way to Poole tonight for a meeting with the Sector Manager. The boss likes to have a few meetings a year to get the Station Officers and Deputies together to share their issues.......(could be a long meeting then!).

More soon

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Every Little Helps

Tesco's and HM Coastguard have joined forces with eighty Tesco trailers being logo'ed up with the 999 Coastguard message.

I'm not sure in return whether our vehicles have to have the "Tesco's" logo on it but I can confirm that you DO NOT get club card points if you get rescued!

This is an excellent way of displaying the Coastguard message up and down the country as many people still do not know who to call when on the coast or out to sea if they are in trouble or if they see someone in trouble.

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Joint Services

There we were doing our Co Responder assessments with the Ambulance Service and the Fire & Rescue Service turn up to do a training exercise!

I understand they were pumping water from the main, to one of their appliances then to another.

Shortly after they finished and went home, a Wessex Water man turned up asking if we had any water as several properties close by had lost their water supply? We explained there had been an exercise in the car park and I think he realised where his water was going!

Water supply now restored, more on our assessment tomorrow.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Queen's Birthday Honour

Two Coastguards have been honoured by the Queen in this year's Birthday Honours List

Peter Dymond (Shown above) the former Chief Coastguard and now project manager for the Volunteer Rescue Service (our side of the Coastguard) has been awarded the OBE for services to HM Coastguard maritime safety and UK Search & Rescue.

James Roberts from the Isle of Wight has been awarded an MBE for Voluntary Service to Maritime Safety in the Isle of Wight.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Divers - Decompression Sickness

It’s been a busy day for the recompression chamber over in Poole- also known by divers as ‘The Pot’.

This morning saw a diver airlifted by Rescue 107 from Swanage Pier, more as a precaution than anything else. Within 10 minutes the Helicopter was re-tasked to Lyme Bay to pick up a second diver who sounded a lot worse.

This afternoon and the helicopter was back to Swanage for a third diver who had to be lifted off one of the local dive boats – the skipper knows his trade well and his quick actions have saved many.

An explanation: Basically (very basic) when you scuba dive your body slowly absorbs nitrogen gas into your bloodstream, this due to the pressure. The diver needs to get rid of the nitrogen when returning to the surface - i.e. decompressing – this done by surfacing slowly and stopping at 6m for a number of minutes. Failure to do this can lead to decompression sickness (DCS) also known as the bends.

The nitrogen gas expands in your bloodstream and tends to settle around your joints, it hurts, and to relive the pain the casualty tends to bend their joints– hence the bends. A minor bend can be just a skin rash. More major symptoms can be caused by said nitrogen bubbles being trapped in the spine, the heart, or the brain- this is not good potentially leading to paralysis or death. All divers are extensively trained in how to deal with situations, and if in doubt the diver is sent for recompression – or potted.

Now with 3 incidents today you might think ‘blimey these divers are terrible!’, not the case. With more people sport diving and doing numerous dives the number of incidents does rise. Swanage and Weymouth tend to be hotspots but this is only due to the high levels of divers and the great diving we have. Thankfully it’s very rare to see someone with decompression sickness. I spent ten years as a diving instructor and with 1000 or so dives under my belt I never saw one person get a bend - thankfully.

Any divers reading this, by way of a reminder you can increase you safety margins by keeping hydrated, setting your dive computer on a more conservative setting, not smoking and cutting down on beer the night before.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Gucci Goggles

Uvex Ivo

Well they look like ‘Gucci kit’ but they’re actually cheap but effective UVEX goggles. Nothing really special about them apart from they are blue and orange.

Why do we need them, quiet simply eye protection. The downwash of air from the helicopter is immense and any debris or sand etc . is blown at a 100mph into your face. If you wear contact lenses like me it’s even more of a problem. At least with these on you can see the helicopter - albeit only just sometimes. They are great on the cliff, especially chalk cliffs, where the updraft of dust kicked off by the cliffman comes flying into your face.

Helicopter at very close quarters

Googles are also worn when driving in stakes for the stake holdfasts at the top of the cliffs. The worry here is shards of metal flying off, ….and if you’ve ever seen Special Agent John Bentham knock in a stake you’ll know why. I have NEVER seen something hit with so much force. Who taught him to do that! Even the sledgehammer was wincing in pain.


I was asked the other day if we had a Helicopter pilot called Terry.

No we don’t but we do have a Paramedic on the team called Terry. Lovely bloke- also known as Super Chicken – well for one night only. (The picture is blurred 'cause I was laughing too much!)

Terry also has a big telescope....The Terryscope


Friday, 12 June 2009

Co responding

Just a little update today.....

Thanks to our Paramedic "Terry" we started our manning of an ambulance vehicle. This was only in an observer roll today and how to fill in the casualty paperwork.

More on what we are doing over the next week

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Swanage Coast Express

"I haven't got anything for the the blog, have you?" was the text message from Ian.

Mmmmm, what I needed was a quick blog story, something different, something you don't see everyday, something Swanagey. Perhaps a photo of a steam train being pulled along the seafront, no don't be silly, like that's ever going to happen.

Two and a half minutes later on the way to Coop for some milk and 'waddya know' I get stopped by a steam train being pulled along the seafront...what are the chances of that! Seriously what are the chances.

'But that's nothing to do with the Coastguard' I hear readers cry. Yes it does. There's sea and some boats in the background of the picture....what more do you want.

For the train spotters amongst you (including Ian) I can reveal that this engine is ...wait for it .....a black one. Yup its a big black engine.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Health & Safety

Before anyone from the HSE has a panic attack, no he didn't really walk across the rope!

Whilst Austen was wearing his personal protection equipment (PPE), he didn't have any safety harness on or rope. When working on anything safety is always a very important factor in the risk assessment, and the one of roles of the Officer in Charge is to keep a close eye on anything that is dangerous.
Just think what would have happened if he would have dropped that stake on his toe!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Something different

For last nights training we headed up to Anvil Point, but then I had sprung a surprise. No we weren't going over the cliff. How do you get the stretcher from one side of the valley to the other, and then with Austen and I out the way (on the other side of the valley) we let Gareth take the helm and plan the job.

Mission complete and they all did a very good job at it, oh and if you want to know how wide the gap is?

Answer 153 metres.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Twitter- Swanage Coastguard Targeted

Swanage Coastguard was targeted last week by an individual(s) who set up a Twitter account in our name. Twitter is a micro blog site where single line messages are posted on the internet and available for everyone to read.

Sadly over 80 messages were posted, many of a racist and homophobic nature aimed directly at Swanage Lifeboat and the Coastguard Helicopter crews. I will not repeat any of the content but it’s fair to say that we as a team were far from impressed with this situation as it made it appear that Swanage Coastguard were the authors; and by that I mean Ian and myself.

To make matters worse it appears from the very specific comments made that the individual(s) involved had a very good understanding as to how the teams work and therefore the content appeared more credible.

The bottom line was that the author of the Twitter pages was clearly making comments of a defamatory nature (i.e. libel) both towards the HM Coastguard and RNLI; and though impersonation, towards the Swanage Coastguard team. This was a very serious situation compounded by the fact that the comments were of a racist and homophobic nature.

In response we have contacted all our partner agencies including the RNLI to ensure that everyone is aware of the situation. The MCA / HM Coastguard have worked closely with Twitter to have the website removed, which was done at 16:10 Saturday afternoon; details of the IP address, Internet Service Provider and e-mail have been taken/provided with a view to tracking down the author. Meanwhile given the nature of the messages, which are considered tantamount to ‘hate crime’, Dorset Police have been advised and a full copy of the comments forwarded.

The situation has no doubt caused suspicion and was potentially damaging to relationships with other groups. As a team we are particularly disappointed and saddened with the situation and to be ruthlessly honest we are upset that we have been targeted in such a way.

Swanage Coastguard was first advised of the situation by the Bournemouth Echo and we really appreciate their kind assistance in prosecuting this matter.

Despite all that has happened we will continue with the Blog and Website.

To conclude this blog entry an apology of sorts has been offered. The writer states the comments made were ‘inconsiderate but without malice’. It would have been nice to get an unqualified apology without the caveats, excuses, or trying to blame us for reacting, but hey ho there you go. It’s the best we are going to get, so that’s it ….end of ….as they say.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Station jobs

Yesterday Ian worked out that if you stand on things you look taller.

....and Austen managed to put a sign up straight.

Or did he?

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Cold Beer

Three chaps went sea fishing in kayaks last night;..... nothing wrong with this.

Portland Coastguard were called at 9:43 by a concerned guest at The Grand Hotel who had seen three kayaks who he considered might be in distress; Portland dispatched the Swanage Team to investigate and provide assistance if necessary.

After making contact with the kayaks (not canoes!) it was apparent that they had earlier experienced some minor difficulties. One chap had tipped over and lost his fishing rods and some cans of beer. They had simply been trying to recover these. The chaps were all very polite and went home in good humour minus 5 cans of 'quality' Australian lager- (otherwise know by our antipodean friends as ‘tinnies’).

This morning the Swanage Beach Wardens have recovered said cans of beer, now suitably chilled, and returned them to their rightful owner. Words of advice were offered by one of the team as to whether there might be better ways to chill their beer.

Moral of the story, keep yourself safe at sea, and enjoy a cold beer when you return to shore. Oh and if you find the rods please drop them off at the Station and we’ll return them also.

Thanks for assistance from Ocean Bay Restaurant.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Putting one in your own net!

I had my first school talk at the new station today, a school from Reading, very nice group with some really good questions.

During the second group this afternoon, the dreaded mobile phone problem started, you know you start talking and then a beep beep (message received) then another and then someones (probably a mother asking what time the child will be back) mobile goes off.

I jokingly said "at my work if someones phone rings rather than being on silent mode then they have to buy doughnuts for everyone".

Guess what........mine started to ring, much to the amusement of about 20 children now asking for their doughnuts!


School talks are a very important for us to get the correct sea safety message across. If your school or group would like a talk whilst visiting Swanage, then please do get in touch with us.

Thursday, 4 June 2009


At the end of our building there will be some public toliets. There has been a few problems with the "pods" but hopefully the repairs will be done shortly to get them into service.

These toliets have nothing to do with the Coastguard and belong to the Town Council, its been interesting the number of people knocking on the door asking us to open the toilets, well sorry we can not, the nearest public toliets are at Beach Gardens or at Battlemead for the time being.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

A Difficult Weekend.

It was a bit of a busy and difficult weekend in for the Swanage Coastguard Team as you can see from the log below. (The log is from our main website http://www.swanagecoastguard.org.uk/)

31 May: The Patrol backed up by several other members of the team assisted Dorset Police and South West Ambulance with an incident within the dunes at Studland.
Tasked: IRT + Dorset Police & South Western Ambulance
Team: A. Rockett, J. Bentham, R. Curtis, G. Kitching, B. Craker

30 May: Just as everyone was about to leave the scene of the fallen climber, the Station Officer requested the ILB return to check a canoe …kayak! which seemed to be having trouble getting back to Swanage. The ILB was soon back and confirmed the occupant was requesting assistance as the conditions were getting worse. Swanage ILB brought the male back into Swanage.
Tasked: IRT + Swanage ILB
Team: I. Brown

30 May: Just before 7pm tonight the Swanage BURT was requested to attend the area known as cattle troughs after a climber had fallen. Rescue 106 was tasked and was soon on scene assisting the climber, Swanage ILB had launched and two of the lifeboat crew assisted the winchman get the casualty into the stretcher. The casualty was flown to Dorchester hospital for treatment, whilst the BURT assisted others involved in the incident back to the top of the cliff and back to their vehicles.
Tasked: BURT + Rescue 106 & Swanage ILB
Team: I. Brown, A. Rockett, J. Bentham, P. Brown, B. Craker, E. Hudson, G. Kitching

30 May: Whilst on patrol the DSO was flagged down by a member of the public stating their daughter had been stung by a jelly fish. The child was reacting to the sting so an ambulance was requested to treat her.
Tasked: IRT + South Western Ambulance Trust
Team: A. Rockett

Sadly the climber who fell on Saturday appears to be very poorly, while Sunday saw the team helping with the recovery of a body found in the dunes. The local paper is reporting that there were no suspicious circumstances.

Monday saw the sad news up the coast at Beachy Head, which there is little you can say.


Our thoughts to the Eastbourne Coastguard Team for what must have been a dreadful day for them.

Above:-Beachy Head at Sunset

A more upbeat Blog tomorrow.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Spring Water

The other day someone asked me, "is there a water leak outside your new building?"

Er no thats a natural spring (so we are told!) which runs 24\7. It trickles away down the drain at the front of the building even during this hot spell.

It is a bit of a pain as it has been turning green and smelling but we do our best to sweep it up when we can.

We also found it quite useful when returning from an incident to paddle in and wash our boots!

Monday, 1 June 2009


Rescue 106 at work on Saturday night, during the rescue of a climber who had fallen 40ft.

Last week in a similar incident at Lulworth the rescue was held up due to members of the public getting to near to the helicopter and the edge of the cliff!

As you can see from the above photo, we kept out of the way and thankfully there wasn't to many people about.

So please if you see an incident, we are happy for you to watch but please just step back.