Monday, 30 November 2009

Radio Coastguard 101.3FM

Austen and I are driving along Studland Beach under blue lights at 3.30 am in the morning, there are no other vehicles to be seen. We then receive this call over the radio.

“Swanage Mobile, Swanage Mobile, This is xxx: - Is that you driving along the beach? Over”.

After a slight delay to compose himself.

“xxx, xxx, this is Swanage Mobile:- Affirmative - we’re the ones with the blue flashing lights. Over” – Austen said without a hint of sarcasm.

We then both burst out laughing as we were the only vehicle on what was a deserted beach at 03:30am, so it was obviously going to be us. The fact that we were lit up like a Christmas tree made this funnier. To be fair, xxx, only wanted to check a position and relay a message.

Five minutes later and Karma had its revenge for our meanness. I forded a small stream at speed which led to the binoculars sliding across the dashboard and hitting Austen ‘in the lap’. He was in the middle of a radio communication with Ian (Swanage Alpha) and the shock of the binoculars hitting him meant he let out a ‘naughty word’. Luckily he had let go of the radio button so it didn’t get broadcast. Just to check he called Ian back

“Swanage Alpha, Swanage Alpha, This is Swanage Mobile, – did you get my last?” Squeaked Austen in a high pitched voice.


On another subject.
Who’s been caught eating biscuits again? Photos this next week.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Joys of a Station Officer

Its fast approaching the end of the month, so that means the paperwork needs finishing ready for the Sector Manager to pick up on the 1st, due to work commitments I decided to finish ours today rather than monday.

The first job when getting to the station, sorry make that the second after putting the kettle on is to check the post box......yes a small pleasure as we never had one at Peveril Point, normally the small pleasure is over taken by disappointment as no one every writes however to day there was a letter!

Ripping it open thinking someone loves us it was from our great friends "Southern Electric", remember the company that took along time to put the electric into the new building.
Sadly it wasn't a nice letter but one to say they are sending a bailiff in to cut the power off as we haven't paid a bill.

Now I know Southern Electric put the cables into the building, but I have been told that they don't supply us with electricity its another company and there has been a lot of work up at estates to explain this to them.....that worked then!

So if anyone has any candles we can borrow we would be grateful oh and if we don't turn up to an incident then we are sorry but our pager repeater wont be working.

Thanks Southern Electric, Oh by the way its nice to know that your office only works Monday to Friday, some of us don't.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Para-illuminate flares

Earlier this year you may have seen on the news that Pyrotechnics i.e. distress flares were being withdrawn from Coastguard service as they were deemed too dangerous. Now this raised hot debate with Coastguard Rescue Offices across the country, much of it unprintable. The key concerns on one side were storage of flares and safety when firing; the CROs stating that the benefits to casualty working easily outweighed the perceived risks.

Our Sector Manager, Pip, and Station Officer, Ian, argued that the Swanage Team should retain flares for use, notably to aid in the large number of searches we have.

The ‘Russian Ferry Jumper Hoax’ incident the other day was a prime example. As we started the search the information given was that there might be up to three people in the water. During the night the team fired half a dozen para-illuminate flares – a parachute flare that lights up the sky as if it was daylight for up to a minute depending on weather conditions.

These are VERY effective bits of kit and allow us to scan a wide area quickly. Perhaps more importantly it tells a casualty who may have given up all hope that we are there for them, often prompting calls for help.

The indecent the other day proves that the decision by Coastguard HQ to allow us to continue to use pyrotechnics was a good one.

No Slipping, No Tossing

We’ve just had a e-mail from top-top-top boss, concerned at injuries sustained to Coastguard Rescue Officers. Coastguard HQ are very concerned that the injury rate has gone up. Whilst they acknowledge that rescue work is not without risk and that we are now better at reporting injury, the rate is still too high. We have therefore been asked to minimise risk.

Apparently most injuries are due to ‘slipping and tossing’….and before anyone starts these were the exact terms used by HQ.

We have been asked not to toss kit at each other as invariably the ‘catchee’ gets injured when they drop a catch.

We then had a team discussion as to who the biggest 'slipper' was.

Friday, 27 November 2009


During this weeks search we got returned to station to dry out, warm up and rest.
This was the 1st time since moving to North Beach that we had somewhere to go as we never could really dry out at Peveril Point.

Some took the time to chill whilst bacon roll were being cooked.

However despite being up for 5 hours some people just couldn't sit still and went to sweep the car park!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

...or did he.

The mystery surounding the chap who may/may not have jumped into the sea deepens.

It would appear that the chap is Spanish, and may have made the whole story up. Why he was wearing a wetsuit under his clothes, and why he chose to fabricate a story is still under investigation. One thing the scenario did clearly demonstrate was the ability of HM Coastguard and RNLI to put a rescue plan into action so quickly.

We often forget the operations room (Ops Room) who yesterday morning played a blinder in the co-ordination of a large number of search units with constantly changing information; much which was conflicting. It gives the teams on the ground (and sea/air) real confidence. Well done Portland Coastguard Ops Room.

I'm sure Ian will have more to say on this subject.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

On a lighter note.

During the search yesterday the team was split up into 3 smaller search units allowing a larger area to be covered on foot, these teams were supported by the Coastguard Vehicle which patrolled the wider beach.

The search teams were out in the dark and cold getting lashed by rain and wind, a very stormy night all in all. Meanwhile Austen and I had the onerous task of sitting in the vehicle, warm and dry.

At one point it was so damn hot in the vehicle (32 degrees in fact) that it started to melt the bag of chocolate mini eggs that Austen had brought along. Acting immediately we had to turn off the heaters and open the windows. We then ate the mini eggs.

It was good to see that the rest of the team appreciated the difficulties that Austen and I had to endure. Brian was particularly understanding, commenting that he was glad we hadn’t got too warm and dry. Well at least that’s what I thought he said… be fair it was difficult to hear as we drove past him standing there gesticulating alone in the rain and the wind.

No doubt next time we will be on foot, while Brian drives by serving up a warm slice of Coastguard Humour!

Ferry passenger leaps into the sea.

Full Team Page - Wednesday 1:15am.

So what were the Swanage Coastguard team up to at 1:10am?....well at this time we were all tucked up in our nice warm beds, asleep.

Five minutes later and a full team page was instigated; the tasking – the search and rescue of a number of persons believed to have jumped off the ‘Barfleur’ Cross Channel Ferry into the sea. The Poole Coastguard Team, East Dorset Sector Manager, and Rescue Helicopter 104 were also tasked, along with the RNLI Swanage Lifeboat and Poole Lifeboat.

At the time of tasking a foreign national had been found on the Studland Chain Ferry, it was apparent that he had been in the sea. The person was taken to hospital and subsequently arrested by Police.

Throughout the night the information changed rapidly and it would be fair to say that given the appalling conditions we considered that the chances of survival of any persons in the sea were low. The strong tides in the area also meant that the area of search was extensive and over time this area increased. After an exhaustive search of the shoreline from South Beach, Studland to the Chain Ferry, the Swanage Team regrouped at the Coastguard Station ready for a ‘first light’ search.

At around 5.30pm we were advised that the picture had become slightly clearer with regard the number of persons involved and the teams were stood down.Readers will understand that due to operational reasons we are unable at this stage to report all the details. Perhaps more later.

MCA - News

Other News sites.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009


No this isn't the test we put new Coastguard Rescue Officers through when they join!

And then the next stage, this is what we got up to last night with several Ambulance crews.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Working with SWAST

Tonight's training should be interesting, we have several Paramedics coming from the Ambulance service (SWAST) to practise casualty handling, so tune in tomorrow for some photo's!

Not much going on in this part of the world as far as Coastguard is concerned (thankfully) but I'm sure you are aware the weather is remaining unsettled for the week. With the heavy rain rivers remain high and we ask everyone takes care near rivers and flooded areas.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Advanced Warning

Just a little advanced warning for next Sunday (29th November).

Between 9.00am and 11.00 the Chain ferry between Studland and Sandbanks will be out of service for the public.

During this time the ferry is being used for a training exercise for the emergency service and other maritime services.

Sorry for any inconvenience in advance.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Pulling together

Many will have turned on the television this morning to see a another massive evacuation of a town following major flooding.

Having worked nights, events were monitored on sky news and I take my hat off to all the emergency services involved in such dangerous conditions, lifeboat crews working along side the Coastguard and Fire teams, a Coastguard truck towing a lifeboat to the scene, usually the sea but in this case a flooded high street where buildings and signage caused even greater hazards.

Helicopter crews working just above roofs plucking flooded house holders to safety, over 200 people brought to safety.

Then sadly at lunchtime news came of a Police Officer losing his life when a bridge collapsed, our thoughts are with his family and colleagues.

With more bad weather approaching the UK, we urge everyone to monitor information from the news, weather and environment agencies.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Thank you

The other day, we had a comment posted on the blog from a surfer grateful for the Coastguard team attending Durlston Bay "watching" the surfers and making sure they were safe, it was nice to be acknowledged in that way.

"Watching" is a huge part of the Coastguard role, and yes the author of the thank you was correct in saying that education would be a good idea in those conditions as there was several inexperienced surfers out in conditions which were extreme .

Where we can, we talk to the various groups of people pointing out various local issues and "request" they wear the correct safety equipment however we can not stop people doing something (in certain situations the police may be able to help us if an individual is putting other peoples lives in danger but this is a very rare).

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Don't try this at home!

The other day I was saying.....

"Nice to see people braving the elements and to be fair to the surfers they all seemed to know what they were doing and were not taking any unnecessary risks. "

Well here's two doughnuts taking unnecessary risks. A one way ticket to Broken-Legsville!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Band of Brothers....and Brian!

Spot the odd one out?

Every now and then a policy has to be changed and the Remembrance Parade was clearly time for a review on the clothing policy.

Up to now we have had a policy on Station that you have to do at least 5 years service to obtain a jacket.......Yes that was fine until you realise that you're the only one that doesn't have one!

Sadly Brian missed his jacket by a matter of months and the parade just didn't look right.

Sorry Brian.........we will get it sorted for next year.

Elf & Safety

On holiday last week I was able to sit down and read the paper;

An article in the Mail by Richard Littlejohn caught my eye.

"An 11 mile coastal footpath, built at a cost of £30,000 by the Rotary Club to allow ramblers to enjoy the scenery along Loch Ryan , near Stranraer, has fallen foul of elf'n'safety. Dumfries and Galloway Council officials fear hikers may slip and graze their knees. They are also worried that the route goes through a field of cows.

It gets sillier. Elf'n'safety is so concerned that someone might fall in the loch and drown, they are insisting that a lifeguard has to be present at all times.

The Council will allow organised groups to use the footpath only if they are supervised by a 'trained outdoor specialist' - what ever that is.

When they are not finding out what people enjoy doing and thinking up way to ban it, these maniacs are capable of turning any innocent pleasure into a job-creation scheme.

Next thing, they'll be demanding handrails on every hillside. How long before they insist that everyone has to wear a hard hat and a high-viz lifejacket before they're allowed to venture into the countryside?

Now being fair, I'm sure there is another side to this story (any official from Dumfries and Galloway council like to comment?) but could this lead to such events happening in the Purbecks?

6ft fences along the cliff edge, a 'wear the proper shoe' course for those wishing to use the coast path, wearing a giant zorbing ball just in case you do trip, lifeguards every 30 feet....just the start?

In 19 years I've been to many incidents, some accidents "Acts of God" and some through the stupidity of the individual, in my book when you step out the front door to take part in an activity you need to take something with you......personal responsibility rather than rely on a person or sign telling you something is dangerous?

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Crime Scene

On my way home last night, I popped to the station just as the IRT were leaving the station after the surfing incident. 1st of all I caught them out as they didn't notice me in the car, I heard the shout "watch out the boss is here!".
Then having been away for a week I thought I better check the station, and found this strange scene on the floor in the garage, had the team being playing cluedo whilst I have been away?
One thing for sure, whilst we wait for a little bit of the floor to be done, our kit boxes have been muddled up and this could explain the clothing all over the place.

Saturday, 14 November 2009


We didn't put a patrol out but sure as eggs is eggs the IRT call came in at 14:30.

Apparently some surfers were getting into difficulty in Durlston Bay. CROs Curtis and Kitching attended to find a big, bad sea and about 30 surfers enjoying some impressive waves. With a strong rip current potentially pushing surfers onto the rocks a watch was maintained for about 2 hours until all surfers came ashore.

Nice to see people braving the elements and to be fair to the surfers they all seemed to know what they were doing and were not taking any unnecessary risks.

Looked fun, if a little chilly, and it was nice that the surfers understood and appreciated that HM Coastguard weren't there to spoil fun, but to watch out for them; it was also nice to thanked.


Bad weather in Swanage today. Very windy.

I've just looked out of the window and the radio mast on the station is swaying! Which is good in a way because if it was rigid it probably would have already snapped!

It's reasonably quiet in town, but we may put a patrol out later in order to respond if necessary.

Meanwhile Terry sends his regards, his message to me reads...

"Tenerife is calm, 80 degrees outside my lingerie shop and I aint coming back!"

You fibber Terry, we know you're at home fitting a kitchen.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Weather Warning

Tonight and into tomorrow we are going to experience some very stormy weather.

A weather warning has just been issued by the Met Office at 17.35

There will be heavy rain at times and gusts of wind of up to 75 knots!

We suggest that unless you really need to go out, stay in doors tonight.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The Swanage Poisoner

Readers will be glad to know that this morning Austen removed his dodgy out of date bacon from the fridge. Phew!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Getting Shirty

But what I did find up the station.... was swanky new polo shirts courtesy of Steve. They are actually very good, nice one to Steve for sorting. Blue with the HM Coastguard logo, rather than the MCA logo – not that we are a fussy bunch.

In the other room were the less exciting HM Coastguard white shirts- although these also have a logo on them.

Hopefully this might stop some of the verbal abuse we get when walking along the seafront with people thinking we are traffic wardens or policeman. It’s slightly sad that you get it, but it’s normally followed by ‘Oh sorry, we thought you were police / traffic wardens!’. Which is perhaps equally sad that people think that these people are fair game for abuse.

Slight emergency at the station

On return from holiday deputy blog checked the station to find that we have run out of chocolate and that Austen's bacon is nearly out of date!

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Salvamento Maritimo

I was lucky enough to see some Spanish Coastguard vessels moored up. They look like pretty smart bits of kit (its not brown paper over the windows but cloth to keep them cool).

From what I can work out SASEMAR. / Salvamento Maritimo operates as Coastguard, Salvage, and Search and Rescue. A sort of Navy/Coastguard/RNLI/Salvage outfit rolled into one.

Apparently they call their helicopters, planes and boats ‘Units of Intervention’, with the boast known as ‘Fast Intervention Vessels’ or ‘Salvamares.’

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Our man in Tenerife

Our "man" in Tenerife sent an urgent email this week, stating that he had at long last tracked down where Terry had retired to.

Readers will remember that Terry retired from the Ambulance Service a month or so ago and since then we haven't seen him with claims of him working on his bath room and kitchen.

Well at last we found him, yes in fact Terry is selling swimwear and ladies underwear out in Tenerife, perhaps the shop name could have been a little more original but when your in a panic to leave the country I guess you use what come in your head first.

Friday, 6 November 2009


Operation Purbeck went well at Wytch Farm, the only problem now is that it creates more admin to update the plans.

Last night being the 5th November a patrol headed out to monitor fireworks around the patch, sadly the 5th November sees a large number of maritime flares being used instead of fireworks and this can lead to problems when fired near to the coast.

So with firework parties tonight and Saturday, please don't fire your old flares, rescue units could be sent out wasting time and money.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Exercise Purbeck

Anyone around Norden Park & Ride tomorrow morning might be a little concerned whats going on? Probably a line of Police,Fire and Ambulances (oh and the Coastguard) vehicles, ready to head down to Wytch Farm.

Wytch Farm? what is that a large farm? Yes there is a farm there but its BP's Wytch Farm gathering station, IE where BP pump oil out the ground and send it off for processing.
Tomorrow is an exercise to test the emergency services and see if the "plan" goes right.

This year is the 1st year that Coastguard ground units have been invited as its been identified that during an incident the heath might need to be evacuated so that's our role to be tested!

So if you hear the emergency alarms at 09.00 tomorrow morning its a test (I hope)

Monday, 2 November 2009

Busman's Holiday

One of the team is currently on holiday in Tenerife and we got this report from him....

My mid afternoon siesta.....(his usual) after a bottle of cold San Miguel on the balcony was rudely interrupted by the Tenerife Coastguard ripping out of the harbour to rescue a yacht.

What it didn't say was he decided not to go down and collect details when they returned !!

Meanwhile I noticed that the "pirates" off Somali claimed they were "Coastguards !" well clearly Coast guarding around the World is different, but those passing Dancing Ledge should feel safe as we are not those sort of Coastguards but the ones that rescue people in distress, not cause distress!

Sunday, 1 November 2009


As well as the garage floor, we also had the carpets changed in the office and training room.

The original carpet was not up to the heavy bashing of Coastguard boots so was changed.

All we have to remember is NOT to walk on the carpet with muddy boots!